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Kumihimo braid-making    Kumihimo braid-making

Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands.

Kumihimo cord was first created by a form of finger-loop braiding. Later tools such as the marudai and the takadai were employed to make more complex braids in shorter time. The most prominent historical use of the cords was by samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their lamellar armour and their horses' armor (barding). Kumihimo cords are now used as ties on haori jackets and obijimes, which are used for tying on an obi (kimono sash).

A modern kumihimo disk made of firm but flexible foam plastic with notches can also be used as a portable marudai. The disks have 32 notches that create the tension that is usually created by tama on a marudai. The disks are convenient but are not as versatile as the marudai. On a marudai, any thickness or amount of string can be used, but on a disk only 32 or fewer strand braids can be made. Also, marudai can make many types of braids, such as flat, four sided, and hollow. There are also rectangular foam cards, especially suitable for making flat braids.

There are a number of ways that beaders and braiders can begin kumihimo braiding. The kumihimo disk is an absolute must. It is lightweight, portable, and significantly easier to use than the traditional marudai.  Patterns are relatively easy to pick up. Hand-dyed silk and high-end beads will produce the best results for your jewelry.

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