Where Will Kumihmo Take You? Everywhere!

Aug 29, 2012

Have you ever learned a new beading technique that just sent you over the edge, creatively? Ever since I learned how to do kumihimo at Bead Fest Philadelphia this year, my brain has been on creative overload with all kinds of ideas for using this fast and fabulous Japanese braiding technique to make all kinds of beaded jewelry designs.

I took my first basic kumihimo with beads class on a Thursday night, and by Saturday, I was ready to take Jill's "beyond the basics" class where we learned how to do things like add a focal bead in the center of a kumihimo braid, make a twisted kumihimo braid with a hollow center, and make a kumihimo cord with a clean end.

Buttons make great closures for beaded kumihimo bracelets and necklaces.
So, seeing that I had seven hours in the car on my way home, I started thinking about all the cool things I can do with my new kumihimo skills. Even if you're a kumihimo beginner, here's a list of ideas to get you going on some new projects:

1. Make a necklace centerpiece. Sure, kumihimo bracelets work up fast with those lovely size 6o seed beads, but why not take that bracelet, make it a little longer, and use it as the centerpiece of a necklace? You can practice your finishing techniques for the ends using your favorite caps and cones, and then mix it up with some stringing or your favorite beaded rope. Mixing in a few gemstone beads or handmade ceramic beads will also help add character to your kumihimo necklace!

2. Make your ends a little longer for a button closure. I've got this wonderful bag of Italian metal buttons from Natural Touch Beads that are just begging for me to use them. Instead of using end caps or cones to finish off your kumihimo piece, why not make your ends a little longer than usual and use those braids to make a button and loop closure? Or make a necklace extension that can be removed and used as a bracelet by adding two button and loop closures to your piece.

3. Use your kumihimo braids for handles. When done properly, these beaded kumihimo braids are incredibly strong. I've got a handful of felted bags hanging around that are just waiting for beaded straps, and I think these beaded kumihimo braids are just the thing! I can use any leftover beads from the straps to embellish the felted bags. If you don't make felted bags, you can always add a strap to your favorite handbag or tote bag, too!

Does it seem like I'm totally hooked on kumihimo? It's such a fun and easy beading project! My next ventures into kumihimo will be learning how to make braids with wire, creating my own beaded patterns for my round kumihimo braids, and using the square kumihimo looms to make flat braids instead of the round braids I've been working on for the last few weeks. When it comes to learning this new beading technique, it seems like kumihimo is taking me to some very cool places creatively!

Necklace by Giovanna Imperia. Image from Kumihimo Wire Jewelry. Photo by Jack Zilker.

Now, if you know the basics of kumihimo and want to start doing some more exploring on your own, you need to check out Kumihimo Wire Jewelry by Giovanna Imperia. While most of the projects are designed to be made with wire, you can easily adapt them to your favorite fibers or nylon and satin cord. There are twenty kumihimo projects for both the round and flat disks, and plenty of inspiration for adding your favorite beads and chain as embellishments to your finished kumihimo jewelry. Get your copy of Kumihimo Wire Jewelry and find all the instruction and inspiration you need to take your kumihimo projects from easy to awesome!

What's your favorite kumihimo technique? Have you been playing with new ways to finish your braids? Designing your own bead patterns for beaded kumihimo braids? Leave a comment and share your newest kumihimo technique discoveries with us!

Bead Happy,


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Essential techniques + 20 jewelry projects for the Japanese art of braiding by Giovanna Imperia


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heartgirl wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 4:09 AM

As I make copper jewellery, I use tiny pieces of copper pipe for the ends of my kumihimo braid.  Just crush one end of the pipe flat with flat nose pliers and drill a tiny hole in that end for your clasp and glue the braid inside the pipe.



on Aug 29, 2012 6:54 AM

If you're looking for great Kumihimo ideas from around the world try joining Kumihimo Group on Facebook! We post our pictures and give great tips and advice to anyone that joins the group...and of course it's free!

~Cathy Selway

LyrlA wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 9:59 AM

   You asked, "Have you ever learned a new beading technique that just sent you over the edge, creatively?"

   Yes, it was spiral rope. I spent about 4 years playing with it, trying out different core counts and bead shapes. There are over 100 of them laying about.

   Now I have become fascinated with herringbone tubes.

   I am trying to avoid kumihimo, but I have a feeling that it is in my future.

-- Lyrl

RUthAnnK wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 10:08 AM

I use the button closure idea, works great! I'm having fun using different size and shape beads. Also there is a great group on yahoo

Margaret2 wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 10:43 AM

I am inspired by the Kumihimo technique and have made some great necklaces.  My next piece is a wonderful beaded collar for my dog, complete with a name tag (recommended for decoration only, no leash)  Made with superlon cord so it's very strong and water wouldn't hurt.  Now I'm off to try a chatelaine for quilters to hand their scissors and pincushion from.  

momscats wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 12:22 PM

I love to make Kumihimo bracelets I have made several beaded bracelets using 6.0 m beads 2colors 3colors and multi colors.

Using up odd or left over beads for multi colors. I have tried wire with the square board and am not to happy with the results, I may try again with a lighter weight wire

Anyone can do Kumihimo I'm teaching my granddaughter and she.is 10.

The only problem I have is getting the ends they are so expensive. Does anyone know where you can buy them in bulk.



need2bead2 wrote
on Aug 29, 2012 7:06 PM

I have fallen in love with Kumihimo and have been having a blast with it.  Does anyone have directions to do the ends with a button and loop or with the clean ends?  In the next Beadwork Magazine there is a pattern with no glue ends which will be nice.  Check out the work by Adrienne Gaskell.  She taught classes at the Milwaukee Bead Show and her work is beautiful.  She has many kits available and is suppose to be coming out with a book soon.


Sally@6 wrote
on Sep 1, 2012 3:11 PM

I am dying to do this. You've gotten me so inspired. I have the kumi disk but don't know how to do the beads part. Maybe I should get a kit from Jill??  Yes!

Michelle@307 wrote
on Sep 3, 2012 2:41 PM

Just started Kumi with beads and love it.  However, I've had the unfortunate experience of having my strands come off the disk and can't reposition them correctly.  Do you know of any tricks or hints that would help in getting them back on correctly to finish the work?

Thank you, Michelle

lynlewis wrote
on Sep 8, 2012 7:11 PM

Hi there from The Land of Oz...I AM TOTALLY IN LOVE with kumihimo...i"ve just sold my first necklace & can't wait to start anklets & friendship bracelets.  I've been beading & marketing for 7 years & love all sorts of the craft &... woohoo... I've just discovered this 'new'  method.  Even my eldest daughter...who said she'd never be interested...has got a wheel now.  I've taught myself how to put beads on in funky patterns & there's a LOT of interest out there so here we go...a whole new obsession.  

Keeping on Beading

Lyn  (Mama Beads)

on Nov 20, 2012 4:30 PM

I use a ring (5-6mm) and a large hole beds or cones for the ends.  Knot the threads after pulling them back through the ring and bead of the finished end. Pass a long needle (doll needle) back up through the center of the Kumi cord and pull the thread ends back through the cord.  No glue necessary and a very neat end.