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.
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.
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.
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.
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.