Friday, September 21, 2012

Kumihimo with Bead Clusters

Braid in Progress - Golden Berries

Braiding in segments or intervals alternating fiber only parts and beads became an obsession. After experimenting on the last piece, shown in my last blog entry on Kumihimo with C-Lon Bead Cord and Beads, I decided to take my experiments one step further. In the previous piece I had played with bead placement and having beads only on specific EZ-Bobs. It created some problems down the line as cords got used at different speed. 

This time I played with groups of bobbins... alternating groups, and found something I have not seen before. The Bead Cluster Kumihimo Kit was born.

Bead Cluster Kit - Pomegranate

The beads in the clusters are in line and it creates a unique look. I choose to keep the segment fairly uniform in length and to repeat bead placement. The length between clusters are shorter for the bracelet and longer for the neckpiece.

Bracelet and Part of Neckpiece Shown

The hand dyed rayon ribbon has a knitted tube structure and is well suited for kumihimo. It variegations when lined up created subtle color shifts. The ribbon has a beautiful sheen, it is slightly iridescent. It is soft against the skin, yet strong. One of the amazing thing about this ribbon is that it collapses onto itself making it possible to load beads with a needle right onto the ribbon. 

Braid in Progress - Passion Flower
Or is it a jelly at the Montery Aquarium?

Choosing the beads was interesting and at time surprising. I run into some problems after choosing a few beads that snagged the ribbon. They had a rough spot inside their holes, so I had to search again for new bead colors. I must have ordered a test tube of almost every color available of Miyuki Size 5 and 6!

Braid in Progress - Blue & Tan

The ribbon in this kit is laid out, cut and tied together. Several steps are already done, this way you will get to the braiding in no time. Just lay the end of the cord into the disk hole and insert the cords right into the slots on each side of the back dot. Insert some of the beads following the sequences marked on the bead bag. Roll the cord onto the EZ-Bobs and start braiding.  

Tool Kit

I braided all my samples with a Mini Kumihimo Disk and Small E-Z Bobs. A tool kit is available for this project and it comes with a project bag making it easy to take your kumi to go. I keep one bag in the car or ready to go at all time, so I can braid anywhere... 

Go to > Bead Cluster Kumihimo Kit

Bracelet and Necklace - Aqua & Bronze

Kumihimo with C-Lon and Beads - Samples

Braid shown coming out of the Disk
A while ago I noticed interest in kumihimo is often divided between fiber lovers and bead enthusiasts. Most of my customers when asking me questions about the best cord to use for their kumihimo first express their area of interest. Either it is all fiber, or all beads. I happen to love both so I went searching for ways to bring both into focus. 

Braid made with C-Lon Fine Weight Bead Cord

One of my first trial in this direction was a small braid done with C-Lon Fine Weight Bead Cord Tex 135 and Miyuki Size 11 Seed Beads. I used a Mini Kumihimo Beadsmith Disk, 4.5 inch in diameter and Small EZ-Bobs to hold the cord and beads. Gold was the only cord color chosen for the standard 8 strand round braid. The bead mix was added at random. The beads were added on all 8 cords at random.

The uniform color brings out the braid structure. A close up of the braid shows the segments with and without beads. The braid is 2mm in diameter. The look is delicate.

The plan is to make a bracelet, but as I only braid this sample as a demo, it is slow going as I have a number of braiding demos to choose from at shows. I will post a picture when it gets finished!

Another of my show samples is this 12 strand braid made with C-Lon Bead Cord. I also chose a uniform color scheme for this braid, Bronze, and Miuyki Duracoat Size 6 Beads. This sample braid shows some irregularity in the second segment. I will need to trouble shoot to se what exactly happened. I often braid at show on these sample pieces while talking to customers... so anything is possible. I may have to start all over, we will see.

12 Strand Braid with C-Lon Bead Cord

The 12 strand braid with the standard size of C-lon Bead Cord has about a 3mm diameter, so about the same diameter as an 8 strand round braid with C-Lon Bead Cord Tex 400. An 8 strand round braid done with the standard C-Lon Bead Cord measures about 2.5mm depending on tension.

12 strand and 16 strand round braids are set on the disk the same way as 8-strand braid, but place more cords on the disk and then braid counterclockwise each set of braids in sequence.

Set up for 12 strand braid

My next sample was made using knitted hand dyed rayon ribbon and Miyuki Size 6 beads added in sections. The sample was finished into a bracelet and a neckpiece. I wear them sometimes, and occasionally wear the necklace as a multiple pass bracelet. 

Sample Braid made with Variegated Hand Dyed Knitted Rayon Ribbon and Beads

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leather Wrap Bracelet with Madeira Silk

Silk is a fabulous fiber to work with lots of glamour. Silk adds a "je ne sais quoi" to any piece of jewelry.... So I decided to test leather wrap bracelets made with Madeira Silk.

Madeira Silk is a 4-strand floss, so it can be separated into 4 parts. Each strand is a soft 2-ply cord that can be used individually or as part of a group. Madeira is a spun silk, so it is made with pieces of filament that are spun together, so it has a fiber feel to it with a bit of fuzz sticking out.

The materials used to make this bracelet are 1.5 mm Greek leather, Madeira Silk Floss, Swarovski 6mm Bicones and Crystal Pearls, and Fresh Water Pearls.  Two strand of the Madeira Silk Floss were woven back and forth 4 times through each bead. Plus an old Italian button was used a the closure.

 I have been wearing this test bracelet almost everyday for several weeks to see how the Madeira silk will do over time. I just too the photos today. So far I have not noticed too much wear. The silk edges are a bit fuzzy, but no more than right after I finished the bracelet. 

After wearing for quite a while, I found the the silk thread moved laterally along the leather and after a while the bracelet was no longer flat so it did not wrap well around the wrist. 

I have since come up with a new double step process. I mount the beads with C-Lon Bead Thread Size D and afterwards wrap the silk around the leather. I will try to post the new way of doing this soon. 

Madeira comes in 108 colors > Madeira Silk Floss