Kumihimo cord was first created centuries ago by a form of finger-loop braiding. Later, tools such as the marudai and the takadai were employed to make more complex braids in a shorter time. For photos and information on these braiding looms, check out the American Kumihimo Society. Here is a YouTube video of a braider demonstrating the use of a takadai for making complex flat braids. The most prominent historical use of the braided cords was by Samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their armor and their horses’ armor. Contemporary Western use includes jewelry making, with or without beads.
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 tension on the cords. The foam kumihimo disk is lightweight, portable, and significantly more affordable than the traditional marudai. Braiders can create complex braids up to 24 bobbins and incorporate beads. There are many sizes and shapes of foam disks available. Look for a disk that is sturdy and doesn’t bend easily, otherwise the braider will experience uneven tension. Continue reading “Brief intro to Kumihimo jewelry”