Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy: 20 Braided Jewelry Designs Step-by-Step

Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy: 20 Braided Jewelry Designs Step-by-Step

by Christina Larsen


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Discover the gorgeous jewelry that can only be created with kumihimo wirework!

Whether new to kumihimo or looking to take your skill to the next level, Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy is the companion you need. Author Christina Larsen will show you how easy it can be to transition from traditional kumihimo materials to wirework with her expert guidance, comprehensive instruction, and inspiring designs. In this must-have resource, you'll find:

   • A complete guide to understanding wireworking tools and materials specific to kumihimo wirework.
   • Full step-by-step tutorials for 3 basic kumihimo braid structures perfect for wirework jewelry designs.
   • Project instructions for 20 inspiring kumihimo wirework designs including earrings, bracelets, and pendants.
Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy has everything you need to bring the ancient art of traditional Japanese braiding to your modern jewelry designs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632506351
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 09/11/2018
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 454,673
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt



Choosing the right materials and tools for wire kumihimo is important as they can greatly impact the outcome. Sometimes specific materials or tools are needed to achieve a particular design, while other times you can branch out and experiment with alternatives. I detail the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the materials and tools to use for your wire kumihimo jewelry in this section.

WIRE 101

There are several things to take into consideration when choosing materials for wire kumihimo jewelry: what kind of wire to use, which beads fit within the design, and how to finish pieces. Some designs require specific materials to form the braid properly, while others can be customized to work with different materials, depending on the desired look. Choosing a bead with an alternate shape to the one featured in the book could work, but it may give the finished piece a different look. It all comes down to personal preference. Feel free to choose different materials than those featured in the projects, and have fun experimenting!


You can use different types of wire for kumihimo. I recommend using a softer wire, such as bare copper, plated copper, craft wire, or sterling silver, because it makes the working process easier and tends to result in a tighter, more even braid. The finished braids are also easier to shape, if the design calls for it.

For wire that has different hardnesses available (see Wire Hardness Explained), I recommend using the dead-soft hardness for the reasons previously stated. Usually the concern with using soft wire is that it won't hold the desired shape as well as harder wire, but that is not as much of a concern with wire kumihimo. There are a few reasons for this. First, there are multiple wires being used at the same time for each braid, which adds to the strength of the final piece, as opposed to jewelry that is made using only one length of wire. Second, as the wire is manipulated it work hardens (becomes stiffer), which in turn makes it stronger. This is beneficial when using wire to make kumihimo because the many movements of forming the braid with the soft wire will result in a strong final piece of jewelry, while still using wire that is easy to work with.


Wire is widely available in several thicknesses, which are referred to as the wire gauge. The larger the gauge number, the thinner the wire. I recommend using 20–30-gauge wire for kumihimo designs as thicker wire is difficult to work with and harder on your hands.


Wire kumihimo tends to use a fair amount of wire due to the nature of the braiding. Wire comes in both small coils and large reels, so it is important to pay attention to the amount of wire required when gathering supplies. I've eliminated the guesswork by including the exact amount needed to complete each project in the materials list.


When making jewelry with wire, you will often see or hear the term wire hardness. This indicates how much resistance the wire has when bending it. There are usually three different wire hardnesses: dead soft (soft), half hard, and full hard. These all have their place and present different characteristics when working with them. Dead-soft wire is easy to work with but not ideal to use by itself without work hardening it, whereas full-hard wire is very stiff and more difficult to work with but will be much stronger and hold its shape better. Half-hard wire falls in between these two and can be considered the best of both worlds. When working with heavier gauge wires, dead-soft wire and half-hard wire are also more prone to needing work hardening to make them stronger, whereas full-hard wire is often already strong enough.


Deciding on the type of beads to use for wire kumihimo jewelry is a personal decision and depends on how you want the final piece to look. Some designs will work with many different beads, so you can choose from a variety of types, shapes, and sizes, depending on the look you want. Other designs require beads in specific shapes or sizes to achieve the desired effect.

The most important thing to look for when choosing beads is the size of the holes because they need to be large enough to fit over the wire used to make the braid. It can sometimes be a problem if the holes in your chosen beads are too small for the wire to go through. To avoid disappointment, make sure the wire fits inside each bead hole before starting your project.

There are certain types of beads that work well with wire kumihimo. So, delve into the world of beads and cabochons, and find your personal favorites.


Seed beads are an obvious choice because they come in a vast array of colors and shapes, and their holes tend to be fairly large for incorporating thin gauge wire, including the smaller size seed beads. Just be mindful that seed beads are made of glass and can break if too much pressure is exerted on them.

Other glass beads, such as Czech or crystal beads, work well and are available in round and bicone shapes, but like seed beads are slightly fragile. Rose montees are made with crystal rhinestones but have a metal backing that makes them stronger. They also feature multiple holes on the metal back, which offer additional design possibilities.


Metal spacer beads are a good option because they are strong and the holes tend to be generous, but the choices in colors and shapes can be limited.


Gemstone beads are a wonderful choice and my personal favorite because there are so many options for color, size, and shape. Plus, there can also be a more personal connection with certain gemstones. The downside is that they tend to have smaller holes and can be difficult to drill. I have found a few types of gemstones that work well for wire kumihimo because they often have larger holes, even in small bead sizes, and are also very strong. These include hematite, agate, and quartz; thankfully the shapes and colors in these stones are vast. I also love to use gemstone cabochons because there are so many types, shapes, and colors to choose from. They also tend to be very strong and are therefore perfect for surrounding with wire kumihimo.


Using different materials in the same design can change the look of the final piece. Incorporating leather into wire kumihimo designs can add more color and also bring in a different texture, which may alter a design completely. It is easy to incorporate round leather into wire kumihimo because it is similar to cord, and mixing the two is like combining the best of both worlds. You get the strength and elegance of wire plus the softness and texture of leather.

I recommend using good quality, soft leather because it is durable and blends well with wire. You can also mold it around the shape of the wire more easily than harder leather, which will give the braid a neater finish. Leather comes in a variety of thicknesses, so check the project directions for advice on which leather to use.



Finishing the ends of your wire kumihimo is a simple but important step. A properly finished end will prevent the wires from unraveling, conceal the cut ends, and provide a secure way to attach a clasp to the piece. When finished properly, the wire ends won't catch on clothing or scratch your skin when being worn. I like to use ribbon-end components to finish many of my wire kumihimo pieces, especially bracelets, because they are fl at and match the wire ends perfectly. This provides a neat, professional-looking finish, and lets you attach a clasp of your choice directly onto the loop of the ribbon end.

Ribbon ends come in many different sizes and finishes, making it easy to match the ribbon ends perfectly to the braid's width. To choose the correct size ribbon end, simply measure the width of the finished braid and match that to the width of the ribbon end.


Choosing findings for your projects is a personal preference. In most cases, the findings are attached to the loops on the ribbon-end components. I like to use two jump rings to attach a lobster clasp on one end (technically you only need one) and an extender chain on the opposite end. I think this gives the jewelry a professional look and also has the added benefit of making the length adjustable, without taking attention away from the design. But other clasps, such as toggle clasps, can easily be used as well.

Earring findings also come down to personal taste. I normally use earring posts and butterfly backs, but you can just as easily attach earrings to the findings of your choice, such as ear wire hooks. Head pins are another finding that is used in several projects in the book. Different types of head pins are available, but they all perform the same function. With fl at head pins, the end that traps the bead is fl at and is almost invisible. Ball-end head pins are intended to be more decorative and feature a round tiny ball on the tip that stays visible and becomes part of the design. Head pins are also available in several lengths. The extra length can be useful if you are using larger beads that require additional wire when wire wrapping.


You only need a few basic tools to make wire kumihimo jewelry: A kumihimo disk, wire cutters, and two basic pliers for handling the wire and attaching findings. A few extra tools are also recommended, but they are not crucial as many of them are interchangeable with other tools or household items.


The most important tool for wire kumihimo is the disk, which you need to create braids for the different designs. The kumihimo disk is an inexpensive round or square shaped foam board with evenly placed slots around the sides and a hole in the center, where the braid is formed. The slots are used to hold the wires while they are being moved in different patterns to achieve the different braid structures. These slots will become loose fairly quickly when using wire as kumihimo. Fortunately, it isn't crucial for the slots to stay tight when using wire as it is when using cord. (Unlike cord, the slots are primarily used for holding the wires in place rather than helping with the tension.) For all of the designs in this book, we are using the square kumihimo disk, which is primarily used for making fl at braids. The number of slots along the edge of the disk can vary depending on the manufacturer. This will not affect the braid, but make sure to always work in the middle slots on each side when creating the braids.


Wire cutters perform the essential task of cutting and trimming wire. Additionally, two different pairs of pliers are also needed to help manipulate and grasp the wire and attach the findings.

WIRE CUTTERS | Wire cutters are the perfect tool for cutting the long lengths of wire used to make the braids. I recommend flush cutters for designs that do not use ribbon ends because they provide a cleaner cut than standard wire cutters, which can help prevent wire burrs that can catch on clothes or scratch skin and will also give a cleaner finish to the jewelry. Since the projects in this book use fine gauge wire, it isn't necessary to have heavy-duty wire cutters that cut up to 12-gauge thick wire. Basic wire cutters will be perfect for the job.

PLIERS | Either flat-nose or chain-nose pliers can be used for bending wire and gaining a better grip on wire than your fingers alone. The chain-nose plier's pointed tips are especially useful for tucking away wire ends as they can reach into smaller spaces than flat-nose pliers. But both flat-nose and chain-nose pliers will be needed when using jump rings to attach findings. Nylon-jaw pliers are useful for straightening and hardening wire. They also protect delicate wire from scratches and marring.


a pair of round-nose pliers handy for when you need to make loops or widen the gaps within a braid.


In addition to basic pliers and wire cutters, you will need the following items to properly complete your projects.

TAPE | Tape is crucial for making wire kumihimo. It is used for making every braid in this book because it gives a starting point and helps keep the wires under control while braiding. I recommend using black electrical insulation tape. It is strong and easy to use, without being too sticky. Keep the tape on the wires during the entire braiding process, then remove it when you're done. If any excess residue from the tape remains on the wires, it can easily be removed by running the wire through your fingers a few times.

GLUE | Adhesive is essential for jewelry making. It can help add extra strength and durability to your pieces, but it is important to find the right kind of glue. When working with wire, use glue that is compatible with metal, has a strong hold, and dries clear. That way if you're adding ribbon ends and the glue seeps out a little, it isn't too obvious. My favorite glue is E6000 adhesive because it doesn't dry too quickly and is easy to apply with a toothpick. It has a strong odor though, so it is recommended to use E6000 in a well-ventilated area. Let the glue cure for 24 hours before wearing the jewelry.

RING AND BRACELET MANDRELS | Mandrels are needed for sizing and shaping jewelry. Most mandrels are made of metal, but ring mandrels can often be found in the more economical plastic version. You will need a ring mandrel for making wire kumihimo rings. A bracelet mandrel is also required, but it can be more easily replaced by household items of a similar size and shape, such as cups or containers. Some designs use different size mandrels to help make one piece. For that reason, I recommend using multi-step mandrels that offer different sizes within one tool.

There are two small mandrels that I find particularly handy. One mandrel covers five sizes from 1.5–5 mm in diameter, while the other covers five sizes from 6–10 mm. These mandrels help when shaping braids and can also be used for making loops. I recommend having a plastic multimandrel available for shaping some of the braids. It is inexpensive and offers multiple shapes in different sizes. If you don't have any of these mandrels available, you can often improvise with household items. So have a look around your home, and see what you have that might work for the project you want to make.

MEASURING TAPE | A measuring tape is crucial for wire kumihimo. You will use it for measuring the wire needed for making braids and for measuring braids as you make them to ensure they are the proper length for the project. You will also need a measuring tape for finishing offbracelets when attaching ribbon ends, so you can cut the braids to the proper length. Any type of measuring tape or ruler will work, but when measuring long lengths of wire, it is beneficial to use a longer measuring tape to be able to measure it in a single length.



This is probably the most important section of the book because it covers the basic techniques for making wire kumihimo jewelry. It is important to understand how to prepare and move wires around a kumihimo board before learning the braid structures. You will also learn how to use wire for kumihimo to achieve the finished results, as there is a bit of a learning curve. Once you have the basics in place, you can comfortably move on to the projects, and also start to experiment with your own designs.


Before beginning a braid, you need to prepare the lengths of wire to make them as easy to work with as possible. This involves straightening, securing, and in some cases, twisting the wires. Some designs also call for leaving both ends of the braid temporarily unfinished so additional steps can be completed to achieve the final design. Here, you will learn how to set up your wire to achieve this.


Before cutting wire for a project, it needs to be straightened to avoid kinks or bends, which can weaken the wire and affect the look of the final braid. Here are several ways to straighten wire.


Excerpted from "Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Christina Larsen.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Elegant Bracelet, 40,
Infinity Ring, 44,
Regal Bracelet, 50,
Infinity Bracelet, 54,
Sunrise Earrings, 60,
Kys Bracelet, 64,
Infinity Necklace, 68,
Celtic Earrings, 72,
Waterfall Earrings, 78,
Eternal Loops Necklace, 84,
Chandelier Earrings, 92,
Edgy Bracelet, 98,
Collar Necklace, 102,
Snaky Bracelet, 106,
Teardrop Earrings, 110,
Cabochon Necklace, 114,
Starlight Earrings, 120,
Chevron Bracelet, 126,
Corset Bracelet, 130,
Corset Earrings, 134,
Framed Leather Bracelet, 138,
INDEX, 142,

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Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy: 20 Braided Jewelry Designs Step-by-Step 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Finally a well written, organized, step by step instructions made easy to follow. Beautiful, clear photos to see. I applaud the knowledge given to me as a reader and a jewelry artist. More jewelry instructional books should follow this book as an exceptional teaching guide. Superbly written!!!
1335sj More than 1 year ago
I've been beading for a long time and I’ve used different wires and leather to make bracelets but I’ve never learned how to weave them all together. Ms. Larsen did a wonderful job by walking you through each project from what tools will be needed to the different gauges of wire and other findings to finish each of her projects. I was impressed with the amount of detail she spent with each project. I noticed that this book was connected with Interweave and I'm a big fan of their publications and products. The main thing that caught my eye regarding this book was the beautiful photography, the soft color palettes corresponded perfectly with the different colors of the finished project. If you have no beading or jewelry experience what so ever you will find this book a work of art on its own. I’ve already put this book on my Christmas list and will definitely be purchasing this book for my fellow beading friends. I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for proving me with the galley in exchange for my honest review.
Bobbie Kirkland More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy (20 Braided Jewelry Designs Step-by-Step) by Christina Larsen in exchange for an honest review. This book contains written instructions and photo tutorials on how to create basic wire braids. The book also contains the same type of instructions for creating bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings using those braiding techniques. The braids are gorgeous. I especially love the bracelets! #KumihimoWireworkMadeEasy #NetGalley