Interview With A Braider - Blogs - Riverside Beads

Interview With A Braider

Donna McKean Smith, founder of Riverside Beads and Crafts, recently did an interview with local journalist Clarissa McPhee, to promote her new Kumihimo book and how she became a braider.

When did you first hear about Kumihimo?
I heard about Kumihimo around 10 years ago and I’ve been braiding ever since.

What drew you to it and why do you love being a braider?
I love how easy it is for anyone to learn how to braid, no matter their experience, plus there’s endless possibilities for the more experienced braiders to progress.

Can you tell me about the basic premise of Kumihimo please?
The Kumihimo braiding technique derives from Japan, where it was originally hand woven with a wooden guide (marudai). These days it’s made much easier by the light weight foam disks we now have to create our braids on.

What made you decide to write a book about it?
I love the design possibilities you can create with Kumihimo and was excited to share some of my ideas in my new book.

How long did it take you to write the book?

From designing the projects and then working with the publishers to print it was around 3 years!

Where do you take inspiration for your Kumihimo designs?

I love colour inspiration from fashion and nature.

What’s the difference between Kumihimo and Pru McRae’s Prumihimo?

Pru has invented a specially shaped board to make creating a particular Kumihimo braid structure easier. The normal round Kumihimo disk allows for development of other braids.

Can you use Kumihimo techniques for anything other than jewellery making? (Maybe that’s another book!)

Kumihimo braids were traditionally used to adorn Japanese garments and warrior armour. In modern day it’s obviously used for jewellery making but is also amazing for projects like dog collars/leads & curtain tiebacks, to name a few.

Do your family Kumihimo?
Donna: Yes, although my boys won’t admit it, all 3 of my kids and husband can all braid!

What classes do you offer for Kumihimo at Riverside Beads?
I teach the Kumihimo classes, offering braided and beaded options. In our new workshop program I’m excited to be offering flat Kumihimo, plus my Piptastic necklace on Pru McRae’s disk and some other fab projects from my new book, we are also welcoming Pru McRae back for a specialist class using her Prumihimo disk.

Do you recommend any particular brand of braiding silks? What works best for you personally?
Donna: I use satin cord a lot 1 and 2mm, along with 9.6 macrame cord and S lon to bead onto.

Will there be another book? Perhaps for the more advanced Kumihimo braider?Hmmm………never say never!!

If you’d like to find out more about Kumihimo then why not book yourself on to one of my classes and become a top braider yourself. You can find out more by clicking here. If you live further afield, and fancy making a special trip, then I can recommend some wonderful local accommodation. I’d love to see you and spread the Kumihimo world!




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