Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese braiding techniques. The earliest records of braided cords were found imprinted on pottery. As the braids developed, they became a significant part of samurai armour, holding together the various parts of the armour and today still form an important part of the traditional Japanese attire, where they are used as obijime, a cord worn to prevent the obi from slipping in traditional Kimono dress.
I make my braids in my studio on a traditional Marudai (the braiding loom) and use them in the necklaces and brooches I make. The Marudai was made from wood by Michael Williams in Sheffield according to my specifications. I use between 16-24 tama (bobbins) onto which 6 silk threads are wound. The patterns are then created when I move the tama around the Marudai in certain sequences of movements. Many different patterns are possible and a change in patterns requires attention and patience.
The necklaces are designed in a way that the metal components accentuate and echo the beauty of the silk braids.
This is a very short video showing how I make the Kumihimo braids in my studio - a few seconds in the long process braiding.
This title refers to a new series of work in which I used the Keum-Boo technique in some of the pieces. Keum-Boo, which literally means 'attached gold', is an ancient Korean process of applying thin 24ct gold foil by heat bonding to the surface of another metal - in my case Argentium silver.
I have been attracted to this technique in my search for an environmentally friendly alternative for gold-plating. (Read more about my thoughts on the environment in my news section.)
In my work I often use folding techniques to create interesting shapes. I am intrigued by how the metal can be made to move by scoring lines and folding it, much like origami paper constructions. In fact, this is how I often start, by making numerous paper models to visualise how the metal piece may look in the end.