I can't remember exactly how it came about, but a comment from my talented bead soup partner Karen Mitchell gave me the urge to have a go at kumihimo.
Being a wee bit in the sticks I can't just pop out and buy art and craft supplies at my nearest shops and being impatient and I couldn't be doing with ordering online and waiting for one to turn up. So I had a go at making one myself.
Tada! My amazingly crappy looking contraption made from an old CD, a bit of craft foam I found in my kids art box, copious glue and a now extremely blunt pair of scissors. But it works really well. I can't show you my completed items because they're for the BSBP party (although I have somewhat given it away in the pics above).
Now for all of the effort it took to make compared to how cheap kumihimo discs are to buy I would suggest just getting a new one but if you really fancy having a go at making one yourself then here's how to do it:
1) Get yourself a CD you don't mind ruining and measure the diameter.
2) Hop over to http://friendship-bracelets.net/wheeldesigner.php to design yourself a template. Set the diameter to your CD diameter and choose the number of strings you're going to use. Personally I would suggest no more than 8 strings because it gets way too difficult to cut enough slots in your CD for more than that.
3) Print out and cut out your template and lay it on top of your CD. Don't glue it yet! Draw around the template, using a permanent marker, onto your CD.
4) Using a strong pair of scissors that you don't really care about roughly cut out the shape you've just drawn onto the CD. Perfect doesn't matter here, the CD is there to give you stiffness and strength that cardboard or foam alone won't give you. And you need the extra cardboard /foam on top because the CD edges will wear your threads. So I recommend making more of a star shape than worrying about nice curved edges. You can see in my pictures that the CD ended up being cut to a lot smaller size than the final disc and that the slots in the CD are more valleys than slits. It's the slits in the foam that hold your cords/threads in place.
5) Now find your self a bit of foam, or failing that, glue a few layers of card board together and glue your paper template on top of your foam/cardboard. Once dry, cut out your kumihimo disc shape - nicely this time - and give yourself a wee bit extra slit than suggested by the template for extra holding power.
6) And the final step is to glue your mutilated CD onto the bottom of your foam/cardboard kumihimo disc. I can't remember what glue I used, some general purpose craft glue I think, I wouldn't have used superglue because I can't be trusted not to glue myself together.
Once your glue is dried there aresome nice easy instructions on the friendship bracelet site here.
All in all it took a good hour to make and another 24 hours for the glue to be properly dry. A messy make but it does do the job and I made some really nice things with it.
I had so much fun making kumihimo cords that I bit the bullet and bought myself a proper one online.
From making my own I realised that the thicker the foam, the stiffer the disc will be and the easier it will therefore be to use. No one likes a floppy disc! (Bad IT humour - sorry)!
And those tiny little ones might seem appealling because firstly they are the cheapest and secondly they are so weeny you can pop them in your pocket and take them anywhere. BUT the smaller they are, the harder they are to use and the bigger, 'normal' size ones are just as portable and fit nicely into your average handbag for on-the-move-anywhere-braiding.
So I highly recommend the 6" Kumiloom pictured above (no, I don't get paid for recommending them unfortunately).
It's way thicker than the beadsmith version and the straight, rather than round, sides make it a breeze to remember where you were if you have to put it down.
Last I checked it was around 8 US dollars I think (I couldn't find any available in Australia) but if you are just starting out why not treat yourself to a complete starter kit (about 30 - 40 bucks).
The one I got includes 16 bobbins, a proper Kumihimo book, the big kumiloom disc pictured above and oodles of cords and beads as well as clasps AND glue so you can whack out some gorgeous bracelets and necklaces straight away without having to buy anything else.
Sound like a salesman don't I?!? Sorry, I was so impressed with my kumi-kit that I had to share! Now the project kit I bought can be found here or search for "Kumiloom" on ebay.
If you're unsure that this is for you then have a go at making your own first and using bits of wool or even thin strips of old fabric.
As for me, I'm a convert and you'll see me regularly at the beechworth bakery kumi-looming with a coffee while my gorgeous kids are safely locked in the kids area!