It's time for my Prima Bead Blog Team monthly post and I have to say that this month has been quite a challenge for me. First of all the 'products of the month' were from Prima's Kumihimo range and although I have read about this Japanese art of braid making (Kumihimo literally means 'gathered threads') I have never actually tried it and so I spent several nervous days panicking about what kind of misshapen rabbit I might be able to pull out of my hat. Secondly, I have spent the last few weeks away from home, staying at my father's house, trying to sort out some more of Mum's stuff and trying to get used to the fact that no matter how hard I stare at the rose arch that leads down the garden, her beautiful smiling face will no longer appear there. It hasn't all been hard work and tears though - I have been for lots of long walks down the leafy lanes, had some lovely trips to the coast and managed to fit in some beading time nearly every day. In fact, once I got the hang of it, I actually found the repetitive nature of the Kumihimo to be very soothing and so this time has definitely shaped the end results of my braiding experiments. Before I started I spent some time asking questions, following up valuable links that my Facebook friends kindly sent me, researching, Googling and watching how-to videos and then I boldly warped up ...
My first piece 'Autumn Sunset' was directly inspired by walks along Chapel Lane which runs past the house. It's a lovely little country lane with a huge variety of wildflowers growing in the verges, only a few cars a day travel down this lane and so you can walk in the middle of the road while butterflies flit around you and birds merrily chirrup and tweet. At this time of year the hedgerows are covered with dark purple sloes, pinky red hawthorn berries, orange rosehips and juicy blackberries. When I opened the Prima pack the rustic looking brown cord the bright orange acrylic beads and the gold metallic thread made me think of the lane and its berry laden hedges glowing in the Autumn sunshine. I added one strand of orange embroidery thread to my braid to pick out the colour of my 'berries', created golden beaded endcaps with a matching central connector to hold the two sections of braid together and fastened it with findings from the Prima range before adding a bunch of orange berries as the finishing touch. With its mix of streamlined beadwork and rufty-tufty braid, this is a very different piece for me but I am pleased with the way it turned out as I think it captures the feel of those hedgerows with their crispy leaves, bits of brown twig sticking out at all angles and smooth sun-ripened berries.
My second piece 'Maritime Chic' was inspired by trips to Dungeness and Rye Harbour (which are both on the coast) and as I wandered past the fishing boats looking at piles of coiled rope, fishing nets and lobster pots I was reminded of the tan and silver twist cord from Prima which was waiting for me to do something with it. I kept this one really simple and created a couple of lashed loops at either end to give a feel of rope and rigging and knots. Using the silver rondelles I added three simple beaded circles and a couple of finishing touch dangles to try and pick out the silver in the cord and to add some fiddle factor to the finished bracelet.
With a couple of pieces under my belt I was feeling ready to attempt adding beads to my braid and so using size 8 beads from my stash I made the very simple 'Moonlight Braid' bracelet. I am not keen on using glue in my work and so I made a couple of beaded endcaps to hide the knots in the braiding and topped it off with a silver toggle clasp. If you follow my blog you will know that I recently spent 14 months beading in this one colour of beads creating my Midnight Garden collection and after all my recent neon work it felt good to have them running through my fingers again.
Still wanting to mix beads and braiding without using glue I made a pair of quick and easy 'Kumihimo Blooms' earrings. As you can see from the photo above, I was directly inspired by the campanula flowers that are one of the few things left over from Mum's beautiful garden. These little flowers are blooming everywhere with their bright little heads bobbing and swinging from every hanging basket (along with all manner of naughty weeds that Mum would never have tolerated) and so I thought that creating a small tubular flower and threading it on to a short length of green braid would give a similar effect.
Still on a floral theme, my final Kumihimo piece 'Flowercup Cascade' is much more my usual style and uses a mixture of seed beads and some beautiful glass Flower Cups from yorkbeads which I have had for some time but never got round to using before. I was really pleased with the way the flowers and seed beads braided together and I can't really think of another beadweaving stitch that would have created this effect and so I guess that makes me a Kumihimo convert! Despite my initial reservations I will definitely be doing more Kumihimo and I have other ideas of ways I can use it in my designs. Thank you Prima Bead for introducing me to something I might never have otherwise tried.
See you next time!