Thursday, 27 September 2012


Festival Feature Event:

Kumihimo – Art of Japanese Braiding

Instructor: Brenda Trafford


                                                                By: Joan Beswick

We’ve had many questions about ‘Kumihimo’, the most frequent being ‘how do you say it?’ So we asked instructor, Brenda Trafford.  


Brenda is a multi-talented fibre artist – felter, knitter, crocheter – who will be offering a full day workshop on Kumihimo at the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival this year. Last year, she won the  ‘booth award’ at the Zonta Fibre Arts Bazaar.

Brenda said to say the word phonetically - it sounds like it spells - /koo me he mo/. She then described this ancient and very functional art form as ‘the Japanese art of braid making or interlacing strands of fibre such as cord or ribbon’. Historically, the kumihimo cords were used by samurai to lace their armour and their horses’ armour. Historically and currently, they are also used as ties on jackets and kimono sashes.



Today, fibre artists find many other uses for kumihimo braids. Brenda makes kumihimo handles for her wonderful felted bags and creates kumihimo necklaces to hold beads and pendants.




In fact, she was first introduced to this art form at the conference of the International Society of Glass Bead Artists in Louisville, Kentucky about five years ago.



So just how difficult is this ancient art? According to Brenda, it’s quite easy to get started. She said ‘we’ll wind ribbon on a bobbin, work the braid down the middle, and go from there’.


At the festival workshop, Brenda will provide the necessary tools and materials: a hand-held disc with a hole in the middle and grooves on the outside, bobbins, and enough ribbon for two cords. She will also have additional bags of ribbon if people want to gather more supplies. She suggests that participants bring lunch, as well as a clip like the one below to use as a weight.


‘Kumihimo – Art of Japanese Braiding’ will be offered on Thursday, October 11, 2012, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It will be held at the Cumberland County Museum, 150 Church St., Amherst. The cost is $40, and all supplies are included. To register, call 902-667-2561, or contact

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