Options for Finishing Your Kumihimo Braids

Jun 14, 2013

I blame it all on Beadwork magazine Designer of the Year Jill Wiseman. Jill is famous for getting hundreds hooked on kumihimo beading through her amazing easy-to-follow classes at big bead shows like Bead Fest Philadelphia.

Jill Wiseman beading kumihimo

Above: Jill Wiseman gets me hooked on kumihimo.

Below: My five-year-old son gets in on the action and helps me load a set of beads for a kumihimo braid.

5 year old boy helps with kumihimo braid
Last summer, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and signed up for one of Jill's kumihimo classes. The name sounded innocent enough: Basic Kumihimo With Beads. Harmless, right? Just another fun beading class with a bunch of fun ladies?

Well, after that one class, I was hooked. And not just hooked, like having a summer crush on the cute lifeguard at the pool. We're talking maniacal, borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder, here. I can't go for a long ride in the car without bringing along a couple of foam kumihimo discs, loaded with beads and threads. Even my five-year-old son has gotten into kumihimo patterns, learning from his momma how to string beads onto the threads using a big-hole needle!

So now that I've been bitten by the kumihimo bug (thanks a lot, Jill), I'm looking for different ways to finish those pesky ends of my beaded kumihimo braids. So far, here's what I've come up with:

1. Glue, beading wire, and end caps. The easiest way to finish your kumihimo braids is the way I learned in Jill's class, using a glue like E6000 and a pair of end caps. Tie off your braid using beading thread and snip it, then coat the plain braid with a generous amount of glue. Slip a piece of beading wire through the space between the plain braid and the beaded braid, and through the end cap. Slip on a bead, a crimp, and your clasp, squash the crimp, and then thread the ends of the beading wire back down into the end cap.

2. Use the ends for button and loop closures. Of course, because I have these trust issues with glue, I thought about using the braided ends to create a button and loop closure on a simple bracelet. It worked!

Make one end of the plain braid long enough that you can tie it into a small loop, and sew your button to that small loop. Make the other end long enough to wrap around that button, and then tie off the long thread ends. (And, yes, a little bit of glue would help to keep those loops secure.)

When you're working this technique for making a button and loop closure on your kumihimo braids, just take care to leave extra-long thread tails so that you can work them into the braid with a needle without too much difficulty.

3. Add a piece of wire to one end. I haven't quite mastered it, yet, but there's a way to insert a small piece of craft wire or beading wire at the very beginning of your kumihimo braid for use in attaching a clasp to the finished project. This could also be used to attach a button for finishing, and then making a loop with the other unbeaded end of the braid as suggested previously.

Again, since I have trust issues with glue, the other way to finish your beaded kumihimo ropes is to make a shorter braid at the beginning and end of each piece, and then insert a piece of craft wire, making a wrapped loop around the plain braid. Leave enough wire to accommodate your end cap, slip on the end cap, and then make another wrapped loop where you can attach your clasp. Look, ma, no glue!

4. Make Your Own Endcaps. I'll be exploring this last one in greater depth over the coming weeks: the idea of making your own beautiful, custom beaded endcaps to finish your beaded kumihimo braids. I mean, why not? Sometimes, I think life is too short to use pre-made jewelry findings. Why not tap into all your bead-weaving skills and use your favorite beading stitches like peyote, herringbone, or even tubular right-angle weave to create your own custom kumihimo endcaps?

Have you been bit by the kumihimo bug? Make sure you check out all the fabulous ideas for making and using kumihimo braids in this free eBook, and Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing magazines! Find inspiration with product reviews, bead news, basic and advanced techniques, and innovative beading projects from your favorite designers. Right now, as part of the Summer Sidewalk Sale, subscriptions to both Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing are on sale! Make sure you subscribe to one (or both) of these comprehensive beading resources, and check out all the great deals through June 23, 2013 in the Beading Daily Shop!

Do you have a great idea for finishing your beaded kumihimo ropes? Do you have trust issues with your glue, like me? Do you prefer the wrapped loop method? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your tips and techniques with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

on Jun 14, 2013 3:33 AM

Re: 4 Make your own endcaps.  Oh yes, can't wait for this, I want to make some long dangle 4mm emerald bead earrings and instead of a metal endcap, I'd rather make a bead endcap that wraps around (like coiled wire) the top of the dangles again using my 3 to 4 mm emerald beads. Thanks Jennifer for your blogs!

knunez57 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 5:37 AM

I count myself as a " belt and suspenders" club member, after having had a couple of glued braids come apart.   Usually it was when I tried to bring that piece of wire up between the beaded and unbeaded sections of the braid.  Now, I use a piece of wire to TiGHTLY wrap a couple times around the glued or whipped braid and then take it thru the end cap, make the wrapped loop, and attach a jump ring between the loop and the clasp.  

Malla@3 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 5:37 AM

If I'm using C-Lon/S-Lon thread, I just use jump rings to end my braids. The C-Lon can be tied off, trimmed, and then melted with a tread zapper or lighter. When I'm using bead caps, I skip the glue. Instead, I use an eyepin or piece of wire which I to into the braid when finishing off the ends, stitch down with some Fireline, then slide on the bead cap and finish with a wrapped loop. Beaded ends I've done as well, my favorite is to use herringbone stitch working from a beaded toggle, doing increases to fit the braid.

Susan@658 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 6:35 AM

I am not a beader, but have been devoted to polymer clay for nearly thirty years. Make your own end caps in any color/size/shape you want from polymer. You can then paint them,texture them, create faux metal with Guilder's paste -- the list goes on! That's what's so powerful about polymer clay. It also makes wonderful focal beads to hang off your ropes.  Susan

on Jun 14, 2013 6:49 AM

To end Kumihimo with no glue, weave the thread tails back through the center of the braid using a long doll needle or hair threader.  Insert the needle back up the braid by inserting it between the beads several inches down from the end cap.  The threads need to be wrapped around a wire or jump ring,

tonibusch wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 8:42 AM

Jennifer - To get the metal wire at the beginning end of your braid here's what to do: Once you have the 8 threads criss-crossed on your loom wheel simply take a 3" piece of wire and form a small hook at one end. Then place the hook over the 8 threads in the center of the wheel and pull the tail of the wire down thru the center. Hold it with your pinky as you weave your threads with no beads. Go twice around before you begin dropping the beads in. This gives you a plain braided piece and a wire at this end. So, when you're all done straighten the wire out, wrap one end a couple of times around the thread tightly. Then slide your end cap on. This hides the plain braid. No glue is needed and you have your wire sticking out the end cap ready for a clasp or loop. I'm hooked on Kumihimo as well for about 2 yrs now. Happy weaving!

Marilyn@180 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 8:58 AM

I'd really appreciate a separate blog, with details and photos of the process, for methods 2 and 3. Thanks for the post!

debbie@376 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 9:06 AM

I wish there was a picture of the project you are talking about! Or did I miss it? A picture is worth a thousand words for us visual people.

Susan@477 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 10:01 AM

Read my kumihimo tutorial in the Oct/Nov 2012 issue of Beadwork to learn how to do kumihimo with wire ends which requires NO GLUE at all. Illustrations are really good (thanks to the amazing Beadwork illustrators).

Sue Charette-Hood

JJFiddle wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 1:12 PM

Thank you Jennifer!

I have a bag full of about 2 dozen unfinished kumihimo bracelets - no beads, just satin rattail - but only finished 1, with the folding endcaps, and it turned out so yucky looking (although I've worn it almost to death in the past year and a half). The end wasn't really wide enough and the glue made a mess - although no trust issues intervened, it has held very nicely. I'd love to finish the rest! And your ideas are a wonderful springboard. I look forward to working on those again and maybe doing some more WITH beads, different kinds of thread, and maybe even some wire kumihimo bracelets. Great summer project!

NANCY WONSON wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 4:08 PM

I have found that I really enjoy using the button loop for my bracelets since I think they add a special demension. The difference with the process I ude is that I begin the bracelet by passing the c-on through the button and beign the weavingfor about 1/2 inch.  At the end of the bracelet, weave enough c-lon by itself to create a loop.  You then put the loop together using a darning needle and takinn one cord through the bottom of the loop and then treading the other cords through the center of the beaded weving.  See Facebook video for Kumihimo button loop.

NANCY WONSON wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 4:09 PM

I have found that I really enjoy using the button loop for my bracelets since I think they add a special demension. The difference with the process I ude is that I begin the bracelet by passing the c-on through the button and beign the weavingfor about 1/2 inch.  At the end of the bracelet, weave enough c-lon by itself to create a loop.  You then put the loop together using a darning needle and takinn one cord through the bottom of the loop and then treading the other cords through the center of the beaded weving.  See Facebook video for Kumihimo button loop.

NANCY WONSON wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 4:09 PM

I have found that I really enjoy using the button loop for my bracelets since I think they add a special demension. The difference with the process I ude is that I begin the bracelet by passing the c-on through the button and beign the weavingfor about 1/2 inch.  At the end of the bracelet, weave enough c-lon by itself to create a loop.  You then put the loop together using a darning needle and takinn one cord through the bottom of the loop and then treading the other cords through the center of the beaded weving.  See Facebook video for Kumihimo button loop.

Ozzy@2 wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 5:37 PM

Jennifer,

   I too am obsessed with Kumihimo. I am not a fan of glue, although I have used it a few times. One way I like is you cut a piece of 17 strand wire longer than your finished bracelet and braid it up the middle and at each end you can use a bead cap and finish it like you would with a wire guard and regular clasp. No glue. I am reading the blog and love all the comments and different ideas. Kumihimo is the best.

Grammydr wrote
on Jun 14, 2013 8:00 PM

I love, love, love the E6000 glue. It is the best and I trust it 100%.  I have pulled and pulled on some of my work and it holds fast. I love to use the crimp ends with a hook and eye. They are great on the kumihimo. I taught a few classes this past winter while traveling down thru NM and AZ. The gals and guys all loved how fast it went and how simple it was to make beautiful jewelry and key chains.

Happy beading,

Darlene

Cris B wrote
on Jun 25, 2013 9:49 PM

For Kumihimo closures - Instead of using 8 strings, I use 4 strings of double length.  I feed a toggle bar onto the 4 strings, move it to the midpoint, tie a knot, then affix the 8  ends to my Kumihimo loom. I string thebeads and braid, as usual.  Then I make a long upbraided loop an make a loop closure out of it

Cris B wrote
on Jun 25, 2013 9:50 PM

For Kumihimo closures - Instead of using 8 strings, I use 4 strings of double length.  I feed a toggle bar onto the 4 strings, move it to the midpoint, tie a knot, then affix the 8  ends to my Kumihimo loom. I string thebeads and braid, as usual.  Then I make a long upbraided loop an make a loop closure out of it

pegspassion wrote
on Jan 12, 2014 4:17 PM

I  am working on Suzanne Branca's kumihimo splash bracelet. Having a problem with adding a button and bead embellishment to create a tassel. i have done the  bracelet three times . It is not coming out to my expectations.The step from the ending of the main body of the bracelet seems to me to be missing .A knot does not seem to be sufficient. I also weaved without beads to end it. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Love the pattern and