Monday, 22 December 2014

Simple Flat Braid Kumihimo Horsehair Bracelet

Find other pattern posts here

Eight Strand Flat Braid Bracelet Pattern

Some readers have asked about flat braid horsehair bracelets. These are easy to do using a square kumihimo plate. Unlike the basic spiral design though, you need to work through a series of moves then keep repeating the sequence until you have the length of braid you want.

It is my view that for horsehair, flat braid designs are probably less durable and so won't stand up to regular wear as well as the spiral design. But the end result is pretty and perfect for occasional use.

The bracelet here is my first attempt at a flat braid design. There are a couple of flaws where the tension was different or the sequence momentarily wrong. It turned out much, much neater than I expected, being just eight strands - or warps- with 10 hairs per strand.

The pattern is described below. I found it best to work through a sequence of moves right to the end then set your plate up to repeat the sequence. That way you will be able to take a break and when you return, you will know where you are up to.  

If you do make a mistake, work back in reverse to the start of a sequence, or to a point where you can see what the next move should be.

Setting up the kumihimo plate

Start Positions
For this pattern you will be using the two middle points at the top and bottom of the plate. Your plate may have a different arrangement of numbers or letters so check this before you start.

Here the top and bottom positions are 5,6 and 15, 16.

The horizontal ones will involve D,E,F and G on the left and d,e,f and g on the right.

Step 1
5 to e

Step 2
16 to F

Step 3
d to 16

Step 4
G to 5

Step 5
6 to E

Step 6
15 to f

Step 7
g to 6

Step 8
D to 15

 Resetting the horizontal strands

The strands at E and F move to D and G on the left

The strands at e and f move to d and g on the right

The horsehair bracelet was finished with sterling silver crimp ends and the horse attached using silver wire.

It was much quicker to braid than the spiral design and took about three hours in total to braid then finish off. A perfect gift for someone.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Where To Get Supplies For Your Horsehair Bracelet

What to search for...

When you decide you are going to make your own horsehair bracelet, one of the first questions you come across may be this. How do I get hold of the end parts to the bracelet? That question leads to others. What type of end and what size do I need?

I have built up a short list of trusted suppliers. They provide quick service and consistent quality. They will also order something for you if they haven't got it.

Before you find a company you need to know what to search for. You can start by entering 'bracelet end caps' into a search engine. If you know what color you are looking for that narrows the search considerably. Stating a size further eliminates irrelevant items. You will probably need end caps between 2 and 4 mm (this is what you want the inner diameter to be). If you are making a really chunky bracelet you will need a larger end cap. Remember though that the end of the braid needs to fit snugly into the end cap to make a really tight, secure fit.

So then, the following searches may help

Bracelet end caps silver

End caps 4 mm brass, silver, gun metal

Crimp ends silver 3 mm

Bell caps

Bell closures

Fold over findings

What type and size of finding for the horsehair bracelet or necklace

View post on "What Size Bracelet to Make"

The link to a past post on choosing the size of your bracelet also links to the size and type of your finding, or end attachment of the bracelet.

You need the end part and clasp to match of course. Sometimes it is easier if the end part and clasp come as an item. Then you don't have to hunt for matches.

Fold Over Ends

Fold over ends often come with chains on and lobster clasps. Provided you make small to medium braid these should fit. I wrap the end of the braid very tightly and glue the end first, then add the fold over end before the glue dries.

These findings come in a range of colors and no matter where you are in the world, you should be able to get hold of them.

The braid in the photo is medium sized. Any thicker and it would not have been suitable for the finding.

The fold over finding is great to use on necklaces. The fact they are adjustable makes them attractive to use on bracelets for youngsters too,

End Caps, Bell Closures

This kind of cap is often used with kumihimo braiding designs. You can find lots of different colors and lots of variations and patterns if you browse the internet for long enough. You can find inexpensive end caps but sterling silver and gold are out there if you want to make something really special.

If you search 'bell closure' you should find bell caps with chains and clasps attached among the search results. 

In the photo, I have added a different adjustable chain. This is very simple to do if you get some lengths of chain you like they can enhance your bracelet or necklace and be a change from the 'ready made' versions.

Crimp Ends

Crimp ends can be really pretty, very durable but a bit more expensive and harder to find.

Once you have found a supplier it will be easy to order from them again. If you find a supplier and need something in a different size of color, see if they can get it for you. If they can, it will save you time and make it easier for you, the next time you need to place an order. 

I like to use sterling silver crimp ends. That's a personal preference. The size is important because too small and they just won't fit the end of your braid. Too large and they could dominate your work. A 3 mm inner diameter is good for most jobs.

You should now have a clearer idea of what you will need for your particular project. If you are just starting out, having a go at making your first bracelet, I would advise setting yourself up with a ready made bell closure or fold over finding.

Happy horsehair braiding!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Braiding Shorter Lengths of Horsehair

Making a smaller kumihimo disc

In my last post I spoke about trying to work with some horsehair which had been kept in a bag for years. It needed a lot of nursing back to a condition where it could be used for braiding. Eventually it was ready.

If you have braided using kumihimo or if you have looked at some of the photos on this blog, you will know that there is a length of hair that cannot be braided, due to the size of the kumihimo loom and the strands needing to be held in place. What's the solution? Make a smaller loom.

I have a couple of very well used kumihimo looms or discs. So I took one of them and started to work on making it a much smaller disc.

After finding something of a similar size to the disc I wanted to make I marked the area then cut the shape out of the old disc.

Notches were cut to hold the hair in place.

The  new, smaller disc is about 9 cm or 3.5 inches in diameter. Ideal for braiding short lengths of horsehair where every millimeter counts. 

Not only was the hair short, it needed to be handled carefully due to age and condition. The braid on the loom is a 16 warp (with 5 hairs per warp) braid. The plan is to produce several short braids to bring together in a necklace. This is going to be quite a challenge and is a step beyond anything I have done so far. But the braid and the small loom are working well. 

Using a smaller disc is of course quite tricky. You need to concentrate and work the moves in short bursts to avoid making a mistake. 

In this last photo you can compare the original size disc with the newer, small one. The braid too is much shorter than you would want to make ordinarily, but if short is all you have, this is one option you can use.

In future blog posts there will be more ideas for using short bits of precious horsehair, so you can keep happy memories close by in the form of something of quality you can make and wear.

To read part two of this item click here Part 2

Monday, 12 May 2014

Necklace Design for Horsehair Saved for Twenty Three Years

Lucky Discovery

While sorting through boxes of items I came across an assortment of things which belonged to a horse I had many years ago. I'd  had him since he was a foal. He taught me a lot about what matters to horses. The need to feel safe, to have a strong trusting bond, to know where they fit into their group,be it with their human owner or the herd and the importance of social interaction and rituals, which are renewed daily such as greeting one another and mutual grooming. 

There was a bag, and in it I found a length of tail hair. The hair was cut as winter arrived, to avoid the tail trailing in the muddy field. That must have been about 23 years ago when I worked in London and my horse was kept just outside in Burnham, Buckinghamshire. 

I would not have known then that I'd one day start braiding horsehair and turn it into bracelets and necklaces. When I saw the tail hair I wanted to thank my 20 something self for saving the hair back then. Now I hope to use some of it in a necklace.

The hair was very dirty, dry and brittle. It had to be handled gently to avoid it snapping. I used mild baby shampoo to start with, holding it with one hand to keep the hairs in order and washing with the other hand. After at least ten washes and rinses the hair was conditioned but was still very dry. 

The horsehair was left in a bowl of water and a generous splash of bath oil for two days, to help soften the hair.

Then it was washed and conditioned for a final time then air dried.

I have been working on a design using silver wire and I am hoping to get three or four short kumihimo braids from the hair which will be connected to make the necklace. It remains to be seen how the hair will cope with braiding. You will be able to see the project unfold here over the next few days.

If you have lengths of horsehair saved in a box somewhere, you might find you can use it to make something you can wear. Over the next few weeks I will post about working with shorter lengths of hair and discussing some creative solutions for even the shortest lengths.


Monday, 24 March 2014

A Bracelet to Remember a Loved Equine Friend

Over the past seven years I have got to know and grown very fond of a mare called Stella. A very athletic and elegant horse. Stella had many high points in her life and had been with her owner Jo for many years, since she was young. She had competed at one time.

One of the high points was Stella leading the way on a Halloween ride. She stopped traffic on a busy Saturday morning as she pranced along in her costume as the mount of the grim reaper, or maybe it was the headless horseman.
Stella was a good support for our new young horse, Charlie. She gave him confidence on his first big outings.
Sadly Stella became severely ill and could not be helped. 

It was quite difficult to make a bracelet for owner Jo, having known Stella for so long. It was a sad process but it turned into a happier one. The horse hair having grown over a long period of time, when Stella was still healthy and active.

The bracelet was finished using sterling silver crimp ends.


The hair had a natural curl to it adding character to the final piece. Hopefully the bracelet will provide a lasting memory for years to come of a lovely horse.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Horsehair Bracelet Starter Tools

Recently on the Horsehair Bracelet Project Facebook page a question came up about what a basic starter 'kit' might look like.

You really don't have to spend much to get started. If you want to produce a kumihimo braid then a kumihimo disk is essential. These are available online. The circular disks are often sold in two sizes. The regular size being approximately 17 cm in diameter and a smaller one approximately 12 cm in diameter.

Until you get confident at handling the braid it would be easier to start with the regular size disk. Once you are used to moving the warps around the kumihimo disk you might want to try using a  smaller disk. One good reason to use a smaller disk would be to make use of as much length in your horse hair as possible.

Pictured below are what is needed to get going with your own horsehair braid, apart of course from the horse tail hair itself   See From Horses Tail to Bracelet

 I like to work on a tray covered with kitchen roll, so I can see where things are and items tend to stay put.

On the tray here are:
Kumihimo Disk for round braid (you can also braid square and flat braids on this)
Kumihimo Plate for square, flat or oblong style braids
Cord, to tie off braid ends
Bobbins to hold the coils of hair, plus beads if used. Bobbins are also good to hold the weight in place under your braid in the early stages.
A ruler, to measure hair or braid length

You will need a good pair of scissors, tweezers and small pliers. For a small cost it is well worth investing in a small kit like the one pictured.

This kit has small containers where you can store findings, jump rings and chains.

In other posts I have shown that a vase or large coffee jar is useful if you want to rest your work while you take a break. It also helps keep the hair neat during the early stages of making a braid.

When actually moving the warps around the disk to braid you will be holding the disk in your hand.

Once you get properly up and running and more adventurous you may build on your basic kit, adding beads and maybe, more findings in different colours and designs.

Once you have the equipment above and the horse tail hair, you are on your way to having a fantastic bracelet!