Free Spirit Beading: How To Make A Kumihimo Bracelet With Soft Flex Wire

Kristen discusses how to make beaded jewelry with  kumihimo boards on the latest episode of Free Spirit Beading. She shows you how to make a beaded bracelet with beading wire. She designs a bracelet similar to the necklace she made for her book Seed Bead Revolution. If you like braided jewelry, this is a great introduction to kumhimo.

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Kristen is a talented  multi-medium artist. Stringing beads is one passion; she also paints, writes, and does graphic design work and more. When she realized her perfectionist tendencies were hindering her arts, she learned to embrace mistakes and go with the flow and her free spirited attitude toward her work was born.

Free Spirit Beading is a beaded jewelry making series on  YouTube. Free Spirit Beading airs every Monday at 12:00pm PST. If you catch Kristen live, you can ask her any jewelry or art related questions. If you miss her live shows, the episodes are available on Soft Flex Company's YouTube page.

Kristen starts the video discussing the art of  kumihimo braiding. Kumihimo means ‘gathered threads’ in Japanese, it began as fingerloop braiding and then moved to boards, which made it easier and allowed for more complex braids. Kristen is wearing the kumihimo necklace she designed for Seed Bead Revolution (page 48). It was made with medium diameter copper color Soft Flex beading wire and Dragon Scale Czech seed beads from Fusion Beads.

Kristen says you will need a kumihimo disk. She is using a  4.25 inch round double density kumihimo disk. You can use any kumihimo disk for this design. Kristen prefers the double density boards as they are thicker and do not bend as much as a thinner board. Soft Flex also carries a six inch disk, but she says the size does not matter and the finished design will look the same. The size of the board is only determined by what makes you comfortable as you work.

Kristen says she is going to be using  Soft Flex beading wire in .019 diameter. .019 is a medium diameter. If you prefer to use a thicker or thinner diameter of beading wire, that is fine. She is going to be using colors from Soft Flex’s Vitality Trio. Trios are packages of ten foot spools of Soft Flex wire. There are three different colors in each Trios package. Trios have been designed to fit a color mood or holiday. If you want to design a piece of jewelry that evokes a magical mood, for example, you might select a Mystical Trio for your next design. If you want to create a Saint Patrick’s Day necklace, you might select a Kiss Me I'm Irish Trio. Her Vitality Trio is comprised of Butterscotch Imperial Topaz, Red Jasper, and Citrine beading wire.

Kristen moves the camera so her materials and tools are visible. She has her materials laid out on her  bead mat. She has her kumihimo disk. She is going to be using Tri-bead Czech seed beads for this bracelet. She has her Vitality Trio. She says she is going to use eight strands of wire total. Four strands of Red Jasper and four strands of Citrine beading wire. She is using sixteen inch strands. She is using an optional kumihimo weight from Design and Adorn. The kumihimo weight helps with wire tension in the center of the board. Loose wire in the center of the board can affect the pattern of the finished braid. She has a tape measure on hand. She has bobbins, also optional. She says she does not use bobbins when designing with Soft Flex beading wire on the kumihimo as the wire tends to slip around in the bobbins. She uses Bead Stoppers in place of bobbins. She says you can also use the spools as bobbins if you have enough of them. She has a cutter. She says you will need large 3x3mm crimp tubes and a Mighty Crimper to finish them. She says you will need two smaller 2x2mm crimps. She recommends using Magical Crimping Pliers or regular crimping pliers to crimp the 2x2mm crimps.

Kristen takes her eight strands of wire and gathers them. She clips her kumihimo weight to one end of the gathered wire. She says if you don’t have a weight, you can use a large Bead Stopper and gather the wires that way. If you do not have a Bead Stopper, you can tape the end, but she recommends leaving some room so you can cut the sticky taped area off after completing the design. She says you can knot the end, but you will need to leave enough room to cut the knot off. Once weighted, she sticks the wire in the center of the kumihimo board, through the hole on the board.

Kristen takes her wire and places it on the board. She is placing Red Jasper on the left and Citrine on the right of each landmarked number (8, 16, 24, and 32) on the board. She centers her wire and the weight.

She says you can use any color combination you want on the board. She shows a design created using all Dark Blue Lapis color Soft Flex. You can mix and match colors or using a single color.

Kristen says she is not going to pre string the beads on her wire. She says if you are using a spool or bobbin, it will be necessary to string the beads first, but since she is not, she can add the beads as she goes.

Watch the video and see how easy it is create this wonderful bracelet. The finished design is stunning but easy enough that a beginner can finish this jewelry design.

After the video, Kristen added a messy wire wrap over the 3x3mm crimp tubes with Craft Wire 24 gauge in brown as shown above. 

If you are new to kumihimo boards you should jump right in. Kumihimo boards are inexpensive and easy to use. The braiding process is simple and can be done while watching TV or talking to friends. If you are new, you can opt to start with cord or yarn until you are comfortable enough to use beading wire or silk. Using different material like silk and mixing them with a thicker or finer cord or thread, will create fantastic textured and fun designs.

Don’t forget to watch Kristen every Monday when she broadcasts live. She would love to hear from you!

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Blog contributor Thomas Soles is the Trade Show Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. His favorite stones are Lapis and Pietersite. His favorite hobby is day dreaming. And his favorite mustache is Tom Selleck's. As you can see, he has a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) sense of humor. You can write to him at