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Adrienne’s big kumihimo adventure, week 4

Japnese friendship bell

For the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories and photos from kumihimo artist Adrienne Gaskell as she takes a month-long kumihimo-related trip down the west coast of North America, from Vancouver to San Diego. Her journey will take her to various bead stores and manufacturers, the Braids 2016 conference in Tacoma, Washington, and a 3-day workshop of her own, with lots of stops along the way. Come back every week to see what she’s been up to!

Week One: Visiting Vancouver and Western Canada

Week Two: Washington and Oregon

Week Three: Sonoma County

When we arrived at the Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island in San Diego, I knew this was the right place for my 3-day Kumihimo Immersion Workshop. The resort is a beautiful and serene place at the end of a narrow strip of land, with the bay on one side and the harbor on the other. But imagine my surprise, when I looked out the window from our room and saw an open pagoda style structure that housed a large brass bell.

On further inspection, I learned that the Japanese Friendship Bell was a present from the city of Yokohama to the people of San Diego in 1958 as a symbol of eternal friendship — a very good omen to have this Japanese friendship symbol just outside our kumihimo classroom.

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Top row, L to R: Margaret, Valerie, Barb, Melodie, and Kristen

Bottom row, L to R: Janaki, Joann, Adrienne, and Sherrie

The class was structured for each of the students to work at their own level of experience. Some students had brought specific projects to work on while others were complete marudai newbies. On the first day, the eight students quickly settled in and it wasn’t long before they became fast friends. Valerie and Kristen were the only ones who knew each other, after having met in another class. They drove down together from Los Angeles. Margaret was the only one local to San Diego. Barb drove from Tucson with hubby, Jim, and stayed on after class for some sightseeing. Janaki, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, got the prize for traveling the furthest, but with sons in San Francisco, she welcomed the trip to California. Sherri and Joann both flew down from north of San Francisco. After meeting in class they are planning monthly kumihimo get-togethers. Melodie from Albuquerque, NM, completed the roster.

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2-Drop Kongoh bracelet
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Triple spiral necklace, featuring 2-Drop Kohgoh and Ridged Spiral braids
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12-strand Hira Kara braid

This was a marudai-based class, and most were experienced making beaded braids on the marudai, but those who hadn’t used a marudai before caught on quickly. We made 2-Drop Kongoh braids, both eight- and 12-strand, with a variety of beads and pearls. Some incorporated focal pendants. The continuous beaded braid projects were very exciting.

We worked with Edo Yatsu (eight-strand hollow round braid), Hira Kara (12-strand flat braid), and Ridged Sprial, both 12- and 16-strand. Joann brought her core stand and made my Embellished Oimatsu braid which is worked with 16 strands of Japanese silk and eight additional strands of pearls.

One of the best things about this type of workshop is the amount of time that the small group spends together, both in and out of class. Our evenings were filled with stories, laughter, good food, and really good wine! The marina sunsets were a perfect end to the fun packed days.

It is sad to be leaving all of these lovely ladies, but we have all vowed to meet up again next summer, if not before. Until then, it is back to Miami for Carl and me as our West Coast Kumihimo Adventure comes to an end.
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