Some time ago my sweet nephews gave me a present. It was a package of hot pink seed beads and some braiding cords from the children’s craft section. They sat in my stash for a long time because I didn’t really know what to do with them. And then Kumihimo happened in a big, big way. My name is Allison and I’m a Kumihimo addict.
Never before have I taken to a craft so strongly as I have this fun, Japanese braiding technique. The second I heard about the technique I was Googling it and purchasing a kit. This whole thing happened in like 20 minutes. Bam! Kumihimo, what? $25 kit? Buy it now. Why does mail take soooo long!?!
And now here I am with a gazillion kumi braided bracelets in my jewelry box and I am so excited because I just keep learning more and more about it. For instance, you can take the normal 8 strand braid and add beads and it’s like a whole new thing. Bing, bang, boom. I’m not gonna talk any more – let’s just get on with it, shall we?
For this project you will need:
- Braiding cord (mine came from the kid’s craft section at Wal-Mart)
- Seed beads (I used both 6/0 and 8/0 successfully)
- Kumihimo braiding disk (can also purchase a full Kumihimo kit)
- Closure – or – a button
Take your cord and cut four lengths of approximately 40 inches. Match up the ends, find the center and tie a knot maintaining a loop.
Take your braiding cords and add 3-4 inches worth of seed beads on each strand. They sell these nifty bobbins to help keep your beads on your strand and keep things from tangling up but I lost mine before I ever even used them. So in true hillbilly fashion, I used paper clips. It worked out pretty well but when things got tangled, many did they get tangled.
If you have trouble getting with your cord fraying as you try to add the beads, you can give each cord a quick dip in glue or Mod Podge, clean off the excess and allow to dry. The result will be a firmer cord that acts more like a needle for easier threading.
Take your cords and situation in the normal 8 strand method. If using two colors and you want each to spiral around the other group in twos together and place across from each other. For example, my black beads are on numbers 1 & 16 and my white beads are on numbers 8 & 24.
If you’re going to be using a closure, you’ll start the braid without any beads. Just knock out an inch or so of regular Kumihimo braiding. (need assistance? learn the 8 strand braid method here).
Now we’re going to start adding the beads one at a time. Every time we move a cord, first we’ll be transferring a bead into the cord as it is being worked up.
Here I’ve got a black bead all ready to go on the bottom left cord.
Take the bead and push up until it goes under the very first horizontal strand.
This is how it will look under the first strand. Now push it is close to the braid as possible.
Then bring the cord up to the upper left just as you would in the normal 8 strand braid.
Take the top right cord and push a bead down under the first horizontal cord, as close to the braid as possible, then bring that cord down to the bottom right. Remember that we’re doing the 8 strand cord method exactly, just pushing a bead down the string before each movement.
And here is our braid as it’s being worked up. The white and the black are swirling together because of the way we placed the cords at the beginning of the braid.
Work the braid until you have the length you need to comfortably wear as a bracelet.
Now, a thing to note here really quickly. I’m using cheapie beads from Wal-Mart and none of them are anywhere near being the same size. If you look you can see some are big and fat, some are short and wide… we’ve got all sorts of variety happening here. Since I’m still newish to using beads I don’t mind practicing with my junky beads. Just know that when you use better quality beads that are consistent in size, the end result is going to be prettier!
If using a button to use as a closure, tie a very tight knot at the end of the braid and trim half of the strands kind of closely to the knot. Use the remaining strands to go through the button holes and secure onto the braid.
Trim the excess cord as needed. Pull the button through the loop to wear.
If using a closure, after you’ve gotten your beaded length, braid for about an inch with no beads. Then follow the directions here for adding closures to your Kumihimo braids. I really, really love these glue in closures – you can buy them for about 75 cents a pair here.
Here is our finished beaded 8 strand cord that uses two bead colors and a button closure.
And here is our single color beaded 8 strand cord with pretty silver glue in closures.
So, what do you think? Are you going to try out this highly addicted Japanese art? I’d love to see some of your cords if you do!