Wednesday, January 11, 2012

16 tama, no waiting

My recent haul from
Mail call!

At long last I was able to place an order with Braider's Hand to get eight more 70-gram tama to go with the eight I already have. So many of the braids featured in Jacqui Carey's and Rodrick Owen's books require 16 tama, and I really wanted to explore them. They are frankly more interesting.

Although I experimented with 16-tama textile braids when I took a kumihimo workshop with Rodrick, I was using tama furnished by the workshop.

I'm looking at the 16-tama designs with a beader's eye. Although you can make textile braids as thick as you want by adding more threads to each tama, you can't do that with beaded braids (that is, if you're putting beads on every strand, as I tend to do). I'm also looking to do more thick and thin braids, and braids that truly marry the fiber and the bling,

The book pictured here is Makiko Tada's Comprehensive Treatise of Braids VI: Kumihimo Disk and Plate. Tada is perhaps the world's leading authority on Japanese braids, and she invented the foam disk as a portable marudai. I did not own any of her books--they're not on Amazon, they're not cheap, and I think some may exist only in Japanese. But the folks in the kumi-2 Yahoo! group seem to refer to her books more than any other. Braider's Hand has several, and I bought this one on a leap of faith, without being able to see inside.

I wish I could show you pics of some of the extraordinary work within the covers, but the book says no reproductions are permitted without the author's written permission. But trust me, they are amazing. The book is in English and Japanese. I would not consider it the best book for a rank beginner, but if you've had some kumi experience, you should be able to follow the diagrams and the charmingly erratic English.

It may seem odd to buy a book that uses the disk (both round and square) when I've "graduated" to the marudai, but it's become clear to me that I will continue to use both methods to braid. They both have pluses and minuses. (On the marudai, you can braid twice as fast, because you're moving both hands at once, but beaded braids are a little trickier. The foam disk has the advantage of being portable--you can braid in the car or while watching TV [without the clacking of tama bothering a spouse--ask me how I know.] )

Now all I need to do is find some time to do some kumi. Over the weekend I got approved up for Pinterest, and oh my, that sucked up more hours than I will confess in public.


  1. Wow! You're really, really into the kumi! I'm really impressed because I don't know how to do anything but the 8 strands in 4 positions (north, south, etc.). And the pictures on that book are amazing. I didn't know you could do that with kumi. Can't wait to see what you make. Very excited about that. I'm now following that blog you cited a while back. Fun and interesting.

  2. I'm so excited that you're blogging about kumi. It is something I'd like to try this year, so I can come back and read your posts when I do. It would be hard for me to order a book without a look see inside, so I'm very glad you're pleased with it. Have a wonderful time exploring, and keep posting! :)


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