Pre-Hamanaka it was done with these beautiful large stools your braid fell through a hole in the middle held by a weight, where there was a mirror, your un-braided fibers were arranged around the outside and were held in place with heavy bobbins. This picture is of a more modern Marudai.
So, I got a new toy! I went to the Bead Renaissance Show, and fell in love with a technique, that was new to me. It is an ancient art form that has been updated by Hamanaka. It is called Kumihimo. It is a form of braiding. It is really amazing what you can do with it.
Now you can get a foam disk that has notches in it to hold the fibers in place. I personally would still like bobbins to keep the fibers tangle free, especially if you are using beaded fibers. You can get little plastic bobbins that look really useful.
This picture is on my disk all set up to make a pink and black semi beaded braid. Only half a strand is beaded and I am only adding in beads every other pass.
This is the back of the disk with the braid coming through the center hole. You start with 8 fibers that you fold in half. These are tied into a knot then the knot is threaded through the center hole, and the strands are laid out onto the disk and pressed into the notches. You then start a patterned movement of the strands around the disk. "Magically", the braid falls out the center hole. It is really cool!
Once you get the hang of it, and understand the directions, it goes surprisingly fast. I was shocked at how quickly I could create a braid.
This is the first braid I did. It is made from green and off-white yarn. Just plain old Michaels stuff. I kind of like it except two things... I discovered that super glue does really weird things to yarn. It hardens immediately, and is just sucked into the yarn, creating this rock hard substance further along than you thought it would ever travel. The second is, they do not tell you how to finish a braid other than with a tassel. A single braid with a tassel would make a nice belt or a nice book mark, or key ring, but not good jewelry. So the endings on this bracelet suck!
I was so addicted at this point I had to keep going even though I did not have a clue what to do with it when I was done. The next one I tried was with green and brown C-Lon thread from Jane's Fiber and Beads. I completely beaded both sides of one thread with one of their great colors of 11 0s. It turned out so gorgeous I decided I needed to try to save it. I had to take it off of the disk though so I could continue with more.
There are many books out there, that I think will tell me how to finish a piece of jewelry, and I will be buying some of them soon!