Stonepath Studio


Braiding in Japan, called Kumihimo (ku-me-he-mo), developed into a highly sophisticated art form about 1200 years ago. My Japanese stands, called dai (dye), are made by my husband, Dave Saunders, for our Internet business BraidersHand. They are based on the traditional Japanese braiding stands first developed about 500 years ago.

Beginning in the 12th century, braids were primarily used to lace together Samurai armor and to wrap sword handles. Today we see kumihimo used traditionally to make obijime (o-bee-gee-may), which is the belt that goes over the obi (o-bee, the wide belt) on the traditional kimono. Contemporary uses of braids are as barrettes, on cell phones, purses, jewelry, in the tea ceremony or as closures for clothing, among other things. My bracelets incorporate ribbon, yarn, traditional Japanese kumihimo silk and glass beads.

The act of braiding is a meditative exercise and an opportunity to create small studies in color and texture based on the world around me. I find that adding beads to braids enhances both the beads and the braids. I use whatever piques my interest, especially silk, ribbons, metallic threads, cotton, linen, and rayon.

View a video of me at my takadai!

Janis Saunders