In beach towns and theme parks all over Florida, vacationing tourists find kiosks with racks of cotton thread cones and a stool under an umbrella where both the young and the young-at-heart can get a hair wrap. A tanned attendant will take strands of hair and wrap the length snugly with your choice of colors to add a touch of whimsy to your vacation look while you relax. The process can take quite a while, even if your hair is only chin- or shoulder-length. But what is a tropical fashionista to do when she changes her outfit and the wrap doesn’t coordinate? Removing the wrap without damaging the hair requires carefully unwinding all of that thread.
From time to time, I have added small lengths of kumihimo to tiny hairclips so they could be worn in the hair but changed with the outfit of the day for my younger friends. But when I discovered these “Instant Feather Extensions” that snap into the hair with a special clip at a point-of-purchase display at my local Wal-Mart, I was intrigued. Of course, the actual snap-on clip was hidden within the packaging, so I couldn’t see whether it was any different than the hairclips I’d been using all along. When the price was lowered for clearance, I could no longer resist purchasing a set. The clips used to attach the feathers to the hair are smaller than the clips I’d been using, and they have small comb-like fingers that help to anchor the extension to the hair at the scalp. The clip is more easily hidden underneath the surrounding hair, and there is a small hole at each end so that a narrow leader thread can be attached. The leader gives more flexibility when styling the hair after the extension is attached.
I used the remainder of the warp I’d used for the combined yatsu gumi necklace to create a simple kongoh spiral. I rearranged the colors so that the braid would have a diamond pattern instead of the basic spiral. Using the 19 strands on each of sixteen tama gave me the ideal thickness – just about the size of a standard pencil. I used relatively little counterweight as well (340g or 12 ounces) so that the finished braid would not be too loose. When I had braided about 25cm (10 inches), I wrapped the end tightly and left some of the remaining thread as a narrow tassel to finish the end.
To attach the braid to the clasp, I doubled a short length of C-Lon beading thread and fastened it with a lark’s head knot. I passed the other ends of the leader threads through the hole of a bead end cap and tied a stop bead to hold it im place. (After I took this photo I discovered that the 6/0 bead took up too much room inside the end cap, so I cut this one off and used a seed bead instead.) Then I bound the end of the braid opposite the tassel and glued that end into the cap with the bead.
This could be a great way to make something useful out of samples once you’ve recorded the information you need. I have found a wide variety of places on the Internet where the clips can be ordered. They would make great gifts or party favors, and the color combinations could be tailored to team or school color preferences. It only takes a few minutes to complete the finishing process once you’ve done the braid, and the braid could just as easily be done on the disc if you prefer that to a maru dai. Happy Braiding!
This Week In My Workroom
Sometimes I work on specific projects, other times I'm just experimenting, but I am
Here's what's going on this week.
Artist’s StatementI enjoy kumihimo precisely because it is not a mindless activity – it demands my focus and attention, engaging the problem-solving part of my brain. Whether the structure is one that I am braiding for the first time or a familiar one, I am required to concentrate on the way the threads work together to form that particular braid. It forces me to pay close attention to the process instead of hurrying or looking ahead. The individual moves lead one to another predictably, and the structure, once understood, tells me what should come next. This peaceful, rhythmic flow added to the pleasure of the color interactions and handling the silk is the joy of kumihimo for me.