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Adrienne’s big kumihimo adventure, week 2

Oregon coast 450
Oregon coast

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 Three: Sonoma County
Mt Hood 450
Mt. Hood

Week 2: Braids 2016 — Tacoma, Washington

A little history of this spectacular event: The first international braid conference was held in 2007 in Kyoto, with attendees from 11 countries. The second conference was five years later in 2012 in Manchester, England. Braids 2016 was attended by more than 175 people from 13 countries. I was honored to be one of the instructors at both the 2012 and 2016 conferences.

The focus of the conferences has been the fairly broad category or 'narrow wares,' as it was important to cover topics beyond kumihimo. Classes included a variety of braiding techniques (loop manipulation, circular braiding, kumihimo, ply-splitting, and finger loop braiding), as well as band weaving (bow loom, inkle loom, backstrap loom), tablet weaving, Chinese knotting, macrame, bobbin lace, sprang, and ply splitting. The Teachers' Exhibit featured an amazing assortment of these techniques.

Ply splitting Barbara Walker 800
Ply-splitting by Barbara Walker
Jacqui Carey 800
Kumihimo jacket by Jacqui Carey

The five-day conference was held at the University of Puget Sound. I thought that it was the perfect environment, providing many communal gathering places and updated dorm facilities. I especially enjoyed the serene walk to class each morning amongst the majestic redwoods. I taught two classes — Embellished Oimastu and a Hira Kara Bracelet. I also enjoyed being a student for two days in Jacqui Carey's kumihimo classes.

Carol James lecture on Sprang 800
Carol James lecture on the weaving technique known as "sprang"

Participants enjoyed four full days of classes and lectures. Presentations were offered each morning and evening by leading experts in a variety of techniques. On Wednesday, we had a mid-week break with field trips to some of Seattle's outstanding museums. One could choose either the Cultural Art and Textile Tour (my choice), which included a visit to the Burke Museum and the Mood Indigo: Textiles from Around the World exhibit at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, or the Fashion Tour, with visits to the World of Wearable Art and the Bellevue Art Museum. I only wish I could have done both!

Makiko and Shinsaku Tada 800
Makiko and Shinsaku Tada — check out his amazing kumihimo tie!

The commencement banquet on Friday night was a lot of fun, but also included some sad farewells to friends that we may not see again soon. The evening ended with the exciting announcement that the next conference will be in Japan in 2019. Start saving your money — you will not want to miss that one!

After a busy week of teaching and learning, Carl and I headed south on the Amtrak again to Portland, Oregon. Our host, Kim Tamarin of Tambrook Beads, picked us up at the station and then gave us a personal tour of downtown Portland. Over the next few days, we enjoyed several outings including a road trip to the coast and hikes through the beautiful forests surrounding Mount Hood.

Next stop: Sonoma County, California.

Hiking in Oregon


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