Reprint from Bead & Button Magazine, April 2017 Updated January 2021 Kumi Q & A by Adrienne Gaskell Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about using a core inside of a beaded braid but I’m unclear — why use a core and how does it work? A: Cores are most often used to prevent a beaded braid from collapsing. A braid may collapse when the inside of the braid forms too large of a hollow space. The core will fill that hollow space and keep the braid round. A drop bead kongoh braid may develop a hollow space if: • The braid is made up of mostly 6º or larger seed beads. These beads have large holes so usually the warp cord will fill only a small portion of it. So, the beads are pushed to the outside of the braid, leaving a large hollow inside of the braid. Sometimes stringing the beads on a heavier warp cord or doubling the warp cord can solve the problem. When this is not possible, a core will do the trick. • The braid is made with mostly gemstone beads or pearls. Since these usually have very small holes, a thin warp cord or beading wire is used to string the pearls or gemstones. The combination of large beads and a thin warp cord causes a large hollow inside the braid. • The braid is made with 12 or 16 strands of beads. The braid will have a larger outside diameter than an eight-strand braid, again causing a large hollow in the center of the braid. WHAT TO USE FOR A CORE Many materials can be used as a core; soft cording, rattail, yarn, tubing and t-shirt ribbon, to name a few. Darice cord is available at KumihimoResource.com and works well. It is about 2mm thick and can be used single or in multiple layers. Because it is nylon, the same material as SLon and CLon, it is safe to use with a Cord Zapper. The thickness of the core will vary depending on what beads and cords are used in the braid. It may be necessary to test different core materials to determine what works best for a particular braid. Some materials can be used in multiple thicknesses to achieve the desired core thickness. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Braid a section and see if it feels right. If the core is too thin then the braid will feel squishy. Look at the braid. If the core is too thick the warp cords and/or core will be obvious and visible. If necessary un-braid back to the beginning and adjust the core thickness. HOW TO START A CORE Tie the beginning end of the core in with the fiber knot at the beginning of the braid. The core needs to be least 6 in. (15 cm) longer than the finished braid length. In the photo above the core is being used double. MARUDAI – BRAIDING WITH A CORE There are several ways to manage the core and keep it out of the way while braiding. You can clip it to your shirt or wrap the end of the core on a plastic bobbin and drape it around your neck. It can also be hung above the disk or marudai from a ceiling fan, overhead lamp or, if you have one, you can use core stand. The last photo is of Mo Perry’s Core Stand Hack using a light weight tripod, piece of PVC and velcro straps to hole the PVC to the tripod. If you need to extend the length of the core in order to reach the overhead object, simply tie a long length of SLon to the end of the core, and wrap the other end of the SLon onto a plastic bobbin. Hang the bobbin over a fan blade or core stand. The weight of the bobbin will keep a slight tension on the core allowing it to move easily while braiding . Braid as usual. At the beginning, when braiding the nub without beads, it may be necessary to yank the core a little to get it neatly positioned inside the braid nub. When finished end the braid as usual, leaving the core in place while braiding the nub without beads. If using a nylon core with CLon or SLon the braid ends can be burned off and sealed with a Cord Zapper. DISK – BRAIDING WITH A CORE To keep the core in the center of the braid and out of the way when working on a disk I simply flip the core to the opposite side of the disk from where the warp cords are being worked. Start with the core positioned on the left of the point of braiding, move the upper-right warp into position. Flip the core from left to right, and move the lower left warp into position. Rotate the disk, and repeat. Wrap the end of the core onto a plastic bobbin to make it faster to move the core from side to side. WHAT IS A CORE GIZMO®? This handy tool is one of my favorite inventions! My husband, Carl, makes these for my students when I am travel to teach an in-person class. They are really useful for braiding on a marudai when there is no way to hang the the core overhead. If you are not lucky enough to have received one of Carl’s Core Gizmos® here are instructions for making your own Core Gizmo®. Cut a 12 in. to 18 in. (30 – 45 cm) piece of wire. Wrap one end of the wire around a dowel or mandrel to make a double wrapped loop. I recommend using 20 or 22 gauge stainless steel wire as the diameter will be thin enough not to impact the diameter of the braid. If using copper wire it should be at least 18 gauge otherwise it will not be sturdy enough to stand up on its own. BRAIDING WITH THE CORE GIZMO® • Insert the straight end of the Core Gizmo® into the point of braiding and tape the end to the counter weight so that the Core Gizmo® is upright as shown in photo. • Bring the core up to the top of the Core Gizmo® and thread it through the loop on the end of the Core Gizmo®. It may need to be looped through a couple of times to make it high enough to keep it out of the way. • Start braiding. Once there is about two inches (5 cm) of braid remove the tape that is holding the Core Gizmo® to the counter weight. The braid should now be able to support the Core Gizmo® enough that it will stand upright. • As the braid length progresses periodically pull up the Gizmo. There should not be more than about two inches (5 cm) of the Core Gizmo® inside the braid. • If the core gets too short during braiding tie another piece of core to the end to add enough working length so that it can be threaded through the loop. When near the end of the braid, if the core becomes too short, it can be taped to the Core Gizmo®. NOTE: The Core Gizmo® will make a larger un-beaded braid nub. Before starting the braid, determine the inside diameter of the clasp and then determine if the un-beaded nub should be made with or without the Core Gizmo®….