More kumihimo

Since I was in no hurry to buy a kumihimo disk, my boyfriend got me one for my birthday last year. It’s a 6-inch diameter disk, which I felt was a bit large for my hands. A 4-inch disk would have been more comfortable to hold, so he got me one (actually it came in a pack of 3) for my birthday this year. I’ve noticed that the slots of foam disks will get stretched, so after using them with thicker cords, they no longer hold thinner ones as tightly.

Now that I finally had a “real” disk, I wanted to give more complicated patterns a try. I was confused about how to read a kumihimo pattern, because I was used to only using eight strings. Then I found this video by Marekitty Bracelets showing how to do the lattice flower pattern.

I made this braid in the lattice flower pattern with 1mm diameter Chinese knotting cord. I’m not happy with how elongated the design became. The braid is 6-7mm thick.

P1040141q

I tried it again with C-Lon (Tex 210), and like the result much better. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find cord ends that will fit it. The width of the braid is 4.5mm.

P1040134q

Later I bought a thick 4-inch diameter disk. The thicker disks can hold thinner cords, which will just slide through a regular disk. (Surprisingly, my cardboard disk actually has an even tighter grip than the thick foam one.) I intended to use it with micro C-Lon and 15/0 seed beads. At first I attempted to do the same flower lattice pattern, but it would not work! The beads kept popping out of place—there was too much going on—so I gave up. Then I came across this tutorial by CSLdesigns showing how to do a flower kumihimo pattern with beads. I ended up making a wrap bracelet with it, because I thought one strand alone looked too thin.

P1040128q

The beaded part of the braid is about 4mm wide.

I have since made another beaded flower braid with 11/0 seed beads and fine C-Lon. Again, I’m having some difficulty finding cord ends for it. I am also exploring more designs with kumihimo. There are quite a few elaborate ones out there. Since kumihimo is simple enough that nearly anyone can do it—and those that can’t or don’t want to can easily find someone who will—I would need to come up with something unique or more innovative if I ever were to sell it.

My second kumihimo bracelet

I decided to make a second kumihimo bracelet with blue and silver beads. Many years ago I would have preferred this color combination over the other one, but my tastes have evolved. I now think having them both be silver-lined makes the colors blend together in one shiny mess.

P1130450q

Then I found other kumihimo patterns and decided to try the wider spiral. I think it works better with these colors because they are farther apart so there is more contrast. This bracelet looks better from a distance.

P1130708q

This time I used a disk template from CraftDesignOnline.com and glued it onto a cardboard circle. Having evenly spaced slots made it easier to work with.

I cut each string to 15″. I don’t remember if I put 36 beads on each strand. I ended up using all but the last ones. The beaded portion of the braid is 5 3/8″ long, but the entire braid is 6″ long including the end caps. (This information probably isn’t useful to you unless you also have 5.5″ wrists.)

I have a correction to state about the desired length of the bracelet. The length of the bracelet alone does not determine its size. The width also matters. To illustrate, if you had two identical lengths of string and strung large beads on one and small beads on the other, the one with the larger beads would result in a smaller bracelet than the one with the small beads. That’s because the “inner circumference” of the bracelet determines the size. Since the larger beads take up more space than the smaller ones, they reduce the inner circumference of the bracelet. Here’s a diagram that I painstakingly made, to show this. Pay attention to the purple dashed line.

braceletSizeText

From this, we know that having a 7 inch long braid does not guarantee it’ll fit a 7-inch wrist, because the width of one of these kumihimo braids with beads is 7.5 mm.

After my first experience with gluing the end caps on, I knew to cut off more of the cord so that it will all be hidden inside the end caps. I did a better job this time.

P1130695q

I had actually made this bracelet about a year ago, and had this draft saved for months before finally posting it now. I have since made more elaborate kumihimo, which I will show in posts to come.

Flowering Vine Bracelet

The idea for this bracelet came from this tutorial by Beadifulnights. As you can tell, I did mine a bit differently. The most obvious difference is that I made my vine and leaves the same color. The reason was that I still have a lot of those cheap green seed beads left over from another project, so I wanted to use as many as I could. This is a project where it doesn’t matter if the size and shape of the seed beads are uniform. In fact, I actually used the different sizes to my advantage.

P1140192q.jpg

I also shaped my leaves differently and modified the spacing of the flowers. I like how it turned out.
P1140200q

Winter necklace

Lately I’ve been making jewelry from patterns because it really is a lot easier than testing my own designs. The designer had to straighten out all the kinks beforehand, and they don’t include all the failed attempts in the final instructions. If you tend to only make from patterns, it can be easy to forget how challenging it is to design something.

This necklace was based on the Christmas Necklace pattern by Trinkets Beadwork. It’s available for free on Craftsy (you’ll need to create an account, but it’s free to do so).

P1130092q

Because of my choice of colors, I’ve decided to call mine a winter necklace. The funny thing was that I had bought the 6mm matte sapphire Czech glass beads a year ago because they were discounted, but I didn’t have a plan for them. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I discovered how nice they look with the Toho gilt-lined aqua opal seed beads.

The design is quite lovely. It looks like the seed beads form star shapes.

P1130086q

I modified it a bit because the part that goes between the 6 mm bead dangles reminded me of a uterus. Somehow it didn’t in the photos on the pattern.

P1120999q

Looks like a uterus?

Initially, I didn’t want to use more bicone crystals, but out of the three variations I tried, it looked best with the extra crystals.

Even though the instructions said you’ll need 5 grams of seed beads and I had an 8 gram bag, I ran out of beads! My modification actually used fewer seed beads than the pattern calls for.

P1130046q

I only had 3 seed beads left, but 5 more dangly things to make until the end of the necklace.

The instructions say to go until the desired length is reached, but I went with what made sense for the number of beads recommended. I measured the length and it was almost 18 inches. The clasp would add another inch. I tried on what I had, and I didn’t want it that long, so I took apart two units from the other end. (I hadn’t tied any knots yet.) This made the finished necklace 16 inches. I figured if it’s too short, I can add an extender chain. Doing this gave me some beads back, which allowed me to finish the necklace without having to buy more beads. (I even had 17 seed beads left over. Not sure what I will do with them.)

P1130048q

All the reclaimed beads. Yay!

What I didn’t pay attention to at the time was that the middle of the necklace wasn’t a dangle, but rather one of the crystals in between. Had I only removed one unit from the end, there would be a dangle at the middle. This is no big deal, since it can be worn slightly rotated so that there is a dangle in the middle.

DSCF0234q

My first successful beaded bead

Many years ago (back in the 1990s) Michael’s was selling bags of assorted jewelry making supplies for a discount, so my mom bought a bag. In it were these 12mm wooden beads. I had no idea what to do with them, so I left them alone and forgot about them until last year.

P1130394q

I still wasn’t sure what to do with those pesky wooden beads until I came across tutorials for covering them with seed beads. Ah, so that’s what they’re used for!

P1130384q

Last September, I tried making my own beaded bead by following a tutorial, but it wasn’t clear. I found another tutorial that was more complicated. I tried again, integrating what I had understood from the two tutorials. Unfortunately, I ran out of thread and couldn’t finish it. Those of you who follow my personal blog may have seen these pictures before.

beadedbead

From left to right: top view, side view, bottom view. I wasn’t happy with what I had done, so I took it apart to reuse the beads.

Last October, I came across this picture of a beaded bead on Pinterest. Unfortunately, the link was dead. Although I tried to find the original source using reverse image searches, I was unable to locate it. After studying it carefully, I was able to figure out how many beads of each color were added each layer. Last week I decided to give it a try.

It was rather time consuming, but after I got the first half done, it became easier because I could see what comes next in the pattern. Since the photo only showed one half of the ball, I wasn’t sure what to do for the other half. I decided to go with a reflection of the top half.

DSCF0352q

All seemed fine until I came to the points of the star. I had to get the point bead in between the two beads of the point in the layer above, but also connect it with the point bead of the previous layer, or else it’ll stick out. That requires looping the thread back around through the point bead in the previous layer, and as you can see in the picture below, it didn’t work out that nicely. I decided to scrap that idea.

P1130355q

It would be easier for me to make the other half separately, and stitch the two halves together at the middle. I had seen some images showing that. It didn’t take me as long to make the second half, and I didn’t need to consult the image. The challenge now was figuring out how big to make each half.

P1130369q

I was able to get it closed all the way around the wooden bead, but it got tight towards the end and the beads weren’t fitting snugly together. I wondered if it needed another layer, so I took it apart. Adding another layer actually requires adding three layers, because both halves need to be symmetrical, and then there’s the layer that connects the two halves.

Later I found this tutorial, and although it looks similar to what I made, I think that it’s done better. I’d like to give it a try.

P1130386q

These Valentine’s Day colors were part of an Artbeads Designer Blend. I had only wanted three of the colors in the blend, but since they didn’t sell them separately, I bought the blend. After I sorted out the colors that I wanted, these were the ones that remained. I’m glad to have found a use for them.

I used size D Nymo for this project. I’m not sure why I did. Probably because this was a test piece and Nymo is relatively cheap. It’s not that difficult to work with after I ran it though beeswax, but the beeswax clogged the eye of my beading needle. I might use FireLine next time because it’s finer and doesn’t fray.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this beaded bead. I might hook together a bunch of them to make a bracelet, or maybe make another one for a pair of earrings.

Giving Kumihimo a try

I first learned about kumihimo from a book on making jewelry. It looked confusing, so I didn’t think about it again until I was looking for portable crafts. At the time, it didn’t seem that portable, with all the strings and bobbins, so I didn’t think about it again until recently.

One morning last December I woke up with a desire to make my own kumihimo disk out of cardboard. It wasn’t my idea. Several months earlier I had seen a tutorial for making a braiding disc out of cardboard on Homemade Gifts Made Easy. I made the braiding disc according to the tutorial, and gave it a try with some Chinese knotting cord. It was fairly quick and easy. Then I wondered if I could do kumihimo with that, and found some video tutorials. The disk used was more complicated, as were the braiding patterns, so I made my own 32-notch disk out of cardboard.

I read here that kumihimo isn’t traditionally done with beads, but I’ve been wondering if it’s a faster way to make a spiral bracelet than beadweaving. This video by Beadaholique shows how to make a kumihimo spiral bracelet with beads. It’s very clear, which is how I was able to follow along with supplies that I already had.

I happened to have a spool of green S-lon that I had bought for a commissioned repair job. It’s not a color that I would normally use, but since I didn’t have any other use for it, I decided to try it for kumihimo. That’s why the color of the string doesn’t quite work with the beads, but it’s a test, so it’s okay. In case you were wondering, the beads are both 8/0 TOHO #223 and #2117.

P1130344q

Seeing how much extra string and beads she had leftover in the video, I decided to go by the tip of 3 inches of string makes 1 inch of braid, and give myself extra for the beads. Since I have a 6 inch wrist, I would only need a 5 inch braid, because clasps usually add 1 inch. I cut each string at 2 ft, and only strung on 40 beads per string. The length was manageable so I didn’t need bobbins. I simply looped the string through the last bead again, like a stopper bead.

The cardboard disk actually works, though I’m sure a machine-made foam disk would work better. I might buy one if I get more serious about kumihimo. I basically eyeballed the spacing for the 32 slits, which is why they’re not even. For that reason, I need to be careful to keep the beads under the string when the spaces are smaller. Edit: Since writing this post I’ve found Friendship-Bracelets.net has a printable kumihimo disk template.

P1130029q

When I finished, I measured the lengths of the remaining strings. They were about 13 inches each, which meant I used about 11 inches for my 6.25 inch bracelet. I think approximately 15 inches would be enough for me next time. (I’m giving myself 3 extra inches for holding the strings in the disk.) I used 36 beads from each string to make the beaded part 55/8 inches long. It looks like it takes 12 or 13 (size 8/0) beads on each string to make 1 inch. Keep in mind, the numbers I’m giving here pertain to one string, so multiply them by 8 to get the totals. Or, if you don’t like doing math, just give yourself a ton of string and beads. I like to be precise to minimize waste of materials (and the time it takes to string on extra beads).

I was able to find simple cylindrical end caps with loops for finishing the ends. (For this particular bracelet, I used the 4mm antique brass ones.) I wrapped the ends with tape as shown in the video, but I had no idea how short the end caps were, so I had to trim the ends some more so that they’ll fit. In the process of fitting it, the tape came off and the braid started to unravel. I quickly coated the ends in E-6000 and pinched the strings together, and stuffed them into the end caps. Some of the green string still shows. Oh well.

P1130340q

Since I didn’t have any antique brass jump rings, and the only brown wire that I had was 22 gauge vintage bronze, I decided to try making my own split rings. Even though I gently hammered them to work harden the wire, I might replace them with real jump rings in the future. The clasp is very beautiful, but it adds 5/8 of an inch to the bracelet, making it 7.5 inches. I might switch it out for a smaller clasp, and save this one for another bracelet that is done nicer.

Edit: I just bought some 20 gauge antique brass wire, so I made jump rings and switched the clasp for a smaller, simpler one. It really changes the look of the bracelet. Before, the flower clasp was drawing attention away from the braid, but now the beads are the main focus.

P1130373cq

The smaller clasp only reduced the size of the bracelet by 0.25 inches, though. Now that I know the length of the end caps and jump rings are 0.75 inches, I will subtract that from my desired length to determine how long the braided portion should be.

I read that S-lon and C-lon are basically the same thing, so I bought some aqua C-lon (because it cost less than S-lon) for future projects.

Big Twist Earrings

This is a design I wish I had come up with, but alas, it’s not mine. I learned it from watching the Orecchini Big Twist Tutorial video by MilkyBeads Bijoux. The video is in Italian, but since she showed every step, I was able to follow along. (Orecchini is Italian for “earring.”) I actually made written instructions and a photo tutorial for my personal use, so I wouldn’t have to rewatch the video every time I wasn’t sure what to do next. However, I am hesitant to share it here for copyright reasons: one being that it’s not my design, and I don’t want my photos to get made into a collage for a DIY site.

A few months ago my boyfriend commissioned me to make a birthday gift for his cousin. Her favorite color is blue, so I chose to use silver-lined dark aqua (Toho color code #23B) seed beads, as I like that color, too. The photos don’t really show the color correctly. The beads really are more aqua than blue.

P1120526eq

In this photo I’ve tried to correct the color of the beads.

One thing I like about this design is how flexible the completed pieces are. It’s kind of fun to bend them. 😛

P1120528bcq

I actually ended up making two pairs. I hadn’t bothered tying the string after making the initial circle of beads, thinking that would give adequate space for sticking the second layer of beads in between the beads of the first layer. Instead, I figured I would just pull the tail tightly. It worked when I did the same design using size 11 Preciosa (Czech) seed beads, but those are smaller than size 11 Toho seed beads. The inner layers ended up getting loose, and pulling the tail only helped tighten the two centermost layers. The exposed string didn’t look good. It wasn’t that obvious from far away, but I didn’t feel comfortable giving those to someone, so I kept those for myself and was more careful when making the second pair.

comparison

Side by side comparison of the one with exposed threads (left) and the one that was made nice and tight (right). The threads/gaps are not as obvious in the photos than in person, but you can click for a larger image and look closely from the 3 o’clock position to 6 o’clock.

I hope I can take the general idea and come up with my own design, as I have thought of linking several of these motifs to make a necklace.