Like many arts and craft projects, beaded kumihimo has tools and supplies unique to its construction. Although the work is done by hand, special items are needed to make a strong and unbreakable braid that when finished properly, cannot be unraveled.
Adding beads to a kumihimo project is not the first step in the braiding process. You must start with these basics.
1. Kumihimo Disk
Kumihimo braids and cords have a minimum of three strands; but can include as many as 100 strands. The ancient Japanese art is worked by hand using either a kumihimo loom or disk. Threads are manipulated with the hands on top of the Kumihimo disk or loom and the cord is formed through a hole in the center.
Purists and Japanese Kumihimo Masters use a “Marudai”, which looks like a wooden stool with a hole in the center. Average and novice braiders use a foam kumihimo disk (the most popular and least expensive) like the one in the image above to create beautiful cords and jewelry.
2. Tangle Free Plastic Bobbins
Flexible plastic bobbins make it easy to braid beaded kumihimo. The handy thread bobbins pop open to wind stringing materials on to the inside spools, and then close again to secure the cording and beads.
The translucent bobbins come in sizes 2.5 inches or 1.78 inches and are usually sold in packages of eight stackable pieces. Experienced kumihimo braiders use weighted bobbins with metal washers attached to the bottom to help maintain an even tension when braiding with beads.
3. S-Lon Cord for Beaded Kumihimo
Beaded kumihimo uses size #18 Superlon (S-Lon) or C-Lon twisted nylon multi-filament cording for stringing beads, spacers and jewelry findings. Each spool of S-Lon has 77 yards and C-Lon has 92 yards.
This treated cording comes in a variety of colors and is strong enough to hold heavy beads and withstand the constant pull as the threads are moved up and down around the kumihimo disk.
4. Kumihimo Weight
To create tension that pulls the braid evenly through the hole in a kumihimo disk, you need to use a weight. In most cases, you can make the weight yourself with a plastic bag of pennies and a paper clip; but this kumihimo weight has a gator clip to attach to the beginning knot made from joining all the cords together. A hook is fused to the bottom for adding more weight as needed.
5. Ruler or Yardstick
For best results when making a kumihimo project with beads, you will need to measure everything you use, from cording to beads to end caps and clasps. A simple ruler, measuring tape or yardstick is ideal for the task.
Cut cords accurately by measuring each strand according to the beaded kumihimo project requirements, and select the right size for glue-in end caps and spiral clasps.
6. Pair of Sharp Craft or Sewing Scissors
You’ll need a pair of sharp scissors with pointed edges that are ideal for snipping thread and thick cording when making kumihimo with beads. Common household scissors work equally as well as long as they still have a razor-sharp edge.
BONUS TOOL: Braiding Kumihimo on a Marudai
Watch this kumihimo tutorial from Sakura Genji 24 Cherry Blossom to get an idea of the beauty of this fascinating Japanese art of braid-making. Learn how the masters use the Marudai to make fascinating braided cords.