Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My first bead show and learning kumihimo

This past weekend I got to attend my very first bead show. I went with my sister to a small bead and gem show that was occuring locally. I am not sure if I was expecting bigger or smaller, but I was definately expecting different. This show seemed to have lots of rocks (cabs and otherwise) and lots of strung glass beads, pearls, and crystals, but very little of findings or metal. Since we went specifically to try to find some things I could make into steampunk jewelry for my sister, this was a little disappointing.


Also this week, I have been learning kumihimo - the Japanese art of braiding. Why? Glad you asked. For a while now, I have been working on learning bead crochet. While I have the basic technique down, it is awkward. Holding hook, thread, work and moving beads.... just awkward. It would probably get easier with practice, but for now it causes my hands to cramp. So, I came across a kumihimo braid done with beads that looked remarkably similiar to the bead crochet ropes I had been coveting. After a little research on youtube, this looked like something I could do!

My first project was done with the rattail that came with the kit I bought, and included no beads. Just learning the basics of the 8 strand braid. It was incredably easy! Move move turn. Move move turn. I like! The first braid turned out nice, but I forgot to take a picture of it before my niece claimed it for her own.

The second project I decided to try with some 6/0 beads I had and some #10 cotton thread. This did not turn out so well. While adding the beads to the braid wasn't hard, I found that my braid kept collapsing on on itself and not being circular. After some thought, I decided that the thread I was using was too thin for my beads. So I tried again with some random yarn. Better!

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With the yarn, the 6/0 beads had better support and it made a much sturdier braid. However, when looking closely at the finished product, I think the yarn may actually have been a little too thick. It shows a lot!

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It doesn't help that it is so very contrasting to the beads. I was getting closer to what I wanted.

Next I decided to try some 11/0 seed beads. My first thought was to use Fireline, but when searching it out, I came across a couple of rolls of Wildfire beading thread I had purchased a while back. It was originally purchased when I was experimenting with threads for beadweaving, but I had decided I hated it and turned to Fireline instead. One of the reasons I hated it was that it was too thick, which I decided might make it perfect for this!

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So, I am a couple of inches into my braid with 11/0 seed beads, and really liking it. The beads seem to fit together nicely with no space to see the thread, and the work is going fairly quickly - much quicker than my crochet attempts! The only real problem I am having is that as my braid gets bigger, I am loosing the weight on my bobbins and it is throwing off my tension. I may need to go invest in some fishing weights to attach to the bobbins. Or remove more of the stones from the bag I have weighting the braid... or both.

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Quote: Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
Douglas R. Hofstadter, from Go"del, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
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