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Kumihimo is a Japanese braid making technique. I use a round wooden stand called a Mura Dai, weighted wooden bobbins called tama and an extensive variety of threads and yarns to create my hand woven braids. The top of the Mura Dai is called kagami which means mirror. Each braid is considered a reflection of the braid-maker.

The braids vary in size, pattern and structure. They can be round, flat or square. They can be woven around a core or hollow. The number of bobbins I use ranges from four to sixteen. The way in which these tama are moved determines the structure and shape of the finished braid. The colors used determine the pattern. The possibilities are extraordinary, exciting and endless.

I use fine silk threads along with other yarns in many different colors, textures and thicknesses to explore the possibilities of Kumihimo. It is a meditative, rhythmic practice that honors a well-respected ancient tradition dating from the 4th to 6th century AD. Japanese braiding illustrates a basic principal of Japanese craft that unites function with beauty. Much of the tradition of Kumihimo was passed down orally, but fragment remains indicate that braids have been used for many purposes, including the trimming and tying of Buddhist scrolls, embellishment of ceremonial garments and lacing together of Samurai armor plates.

In my exploration and practice, I create braids to be worn as necklaces. Designing braids using color, texture and pattern inspires me to continue this creative pursuit and I find the act of producing each braid satisfying both in the physical action as well as the aesthetic result.

Even though I consider each individual braid to be a work of art on its own, I often group several different braids together to create necklaces for my Toursade Collection. I have studied jewelry making and gemology and use these skills to design and hand-fabricate pendants, beads and clasps to compliment my braided necklaces. I use 20k and 22k gold that I alloy myself along with fine silver, gemstones and cultured pearls. Many times I add these elements to the braids as I'm working them.

My goal is to make well executed, wearable pieces that unify these materials with balance, harmony and elegance.

 

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