this has been kicking around in my brain as an introduction to a getting started topic in our new forum. It is still a draft, but I am hoping for some feedback to help clarify my thinking, The links won’t be added till the content is in the forum. Thanks in Advance for sharing your reaction to my perhaps inflammatory thoughts on this Daft version of getting started in Braiding as they evolve.
The following is a highly opinionated theory, and absolutely no disrespect is meant to any of the wonderful authors and teachers whose work may not fit into my vision.
Although focused on Braiding, much could apply to any of the fiber arts.
As I wrote in the article Getting Started: Disc & Plate, whether your braids are of Japanese or other ethnic origins – all share two commonalities. First, a Braid, unlike weaving, is a single set of elements, (in weaving, as you know, warp and weft are separate and generally worked at right angles) with each serving the functions of both warp and weft and in most cases, worked on the diagonal.
Second, is the need to focus on good information often found only in books and classes – and far too often not in a YouTube video where it is far too easy to miss nuances in the good ones and pick up bad habits in the “I learned this yesterday and so I am sharing”
As you may have already guessed, I have very low tolerance for books or videos that teach me nothing I cannot learn from Shirley Berlin’s Red Book “Kumihimo On A Card” There is nothing wrong with wanting, buying, using recipes – it is just not my thing.
So once the braider decides to use MaruDai or other braiding stand – there is no question that both devil and delight get equal time in the details. Fortunately for today’s beginning and advanced braiders – we have a much greater choice of books, educators, and venues for classes.
Equally of value is that for MaruDai, unlike when many of us in the USA started, you can learn MOST of what you need from some of the books available today (2014)
You just have to choose your most likely path. It is my opinion and YMMV may be different – that there is more than one path and that your choices should be guided by where you think you want to “go”.
Certainly there is a significant group of braiders who fall into either “category” still, at heart, you will find they are “mostly” Process or Project.
The Process people are more inclined to focus on structure – in the “English speaking” world (USA/Canada/UK etc) most have come from some other fiber discipline such as weaving and other small wares. Process people are more likely to move from MaruDai to other types of specialized Dai and other stands which have been developed for use in braids from other Cultures such as the Chinese and Peruvian structures. Process people are often, for lack a better explanation, more traditional in their approach, using traditional materials, and limiting their finishing to more traditional objects such obi-jime, the cord used to tie the Obi of Kimono. The Process person is mostly likely to look at a “finished sample and think, now what if I changed this step….. they are about changing the actual way the braid is made first and then considering artful variations later.
The Project People, are those building their skills and repertoire of techniques for the purpose of incorporating various structures into “useful” and “decorative” objects, often items intended for personal adornment (jewelry or trim on garments, etc) These are the people who first thought when looking at a finished braid might be some variation of
“That nice, now what can I make it into”. Many Project People have come to this path from other FiberArts – where an investment of time and discipline to master basics is the norm.
The Over Lap group is the one who is interested in how the braid was made, but their questions usually start with “well what if I put this color(or bead or chip) on that element and then repeated the structure. Speaking as an over lap person, It has been my observation that quite often we tend to choose one piece of equipment for the Process side of our personality and then use those unique structures within our projects.
Within the Project people there is a small but growing number arriving in the braiding community to have been exposed ot the basics, have been browsing the web seeing the work of and want to expand their skills – accepting the necessary discipline to buld those skills
And here is where I will likely get burned – this is an increasing influx from those who are not aware and mostly seem not interested in the rich history of the braider’s craft and are not really interested in growing their talent or those with a talent for choosing colors and using only the most basic of techniques and often without proper There is certainly a place for this segment in the bead & jewelry hobbyists population.
Putting my money where my mouth is – I recently stunned many customers who called asking me to special order certain books prefaced because they said something like “I am so excited to get this book to learn more about Kumihimo” with my reply “If you want to learn about Kumihimo, you should not be buying a beading/beadwork book” because no matter what is says in title, yes, it is braiding, but only at the most elementary level. There is nothing wrong with recipe books, but a Chocolate Chip Cookie is till just a Chocolate Chip cookie if the only variation is your choice of chocolate – Milk, Dark, etc – all good and delicious if you like that flavor. Just as the book you are requesting is offering you varaitions based on the bead ingredients (with some allowance occasionally for where to place the beads) If you want to learn about Kumihimo, let’s talk a bit before you choose.
So far, only one has gotten angry, and several have stuck to their original choice, but most have thought further and chosen a path that will keep them interested and innovative for years to come.
Now on to the, Getting Started Book Lists. (not to Wheat Wrote What readers, the forum does required you create an account to read most of the content – it is free, and you will not added to any email lists unless you choose to follow topics)
Click to Read: Books for Process People and why Wheat recommends each
Click to read: Books for Project and why Wheat recommends each
Click to read Books for Disk and Plate people and why Wheat Recommends each.
LINK To MATERAILS for Braiders
LINK TO EQUIPMENT SECTION WITH PICTURES AND DESCRIPTION OF EACH AND THEIR USES>
such as the
Maru-dai, Kara-dai, KaraKaku-dai, Omarudai, Taka-dai, Aya-Taka-dai, to name some of the Japanese – there are also Chinese and many other cultures with specialized equipment such as the recently released cord braiding stand that I have been told was developed to make Peruvian braids “easier”