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Textured kumihimo necklace and bracelet

Braid a kumihimo necklace and bracelet with magatamas to achieve an asymmetrical serpentine effect

Dating back to third century Japan, magatamas were comma-shaped jade beads believed to have derived from prehistoric animal-tooth pendants. Here, they are woven into a beautiful, textured kumihimo necklace.


Black-and-silver necklace 18 in. (46 cm)

  • 4 x 7 mm long magatamas in 2 colors:
  • 144 color A (galvanized silver)
  • 144 color B (metallic luster gunmetal)
  • 2 3 mm round beads (silver)
  • 18 g 8/0 seed beads (hematite)
  • Clasp
  • 2 8 mm bead caps
  • 2 6 mm jump rings
  • 8 in. (20 cm) 20-gauge wire
  • Super-lon or #18 nylon cord
  • 2 Big Eye needles
  • 8 bobbins and a Bead Stopper or clip
  • G-S Hypo Cement
  • kumihimo disk with small weight (12-14 oz)
  • 2 pairs of chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters

Black-and-gold necklace colors:

  • 4 x 7 mm long magatamas
  • color A (metallic gold iris)
  • color B (matte black)
  • 8/0 seed beads (matte mauve)

Green bracelet colors:

  • 4 x 7 mm long magatamas (matte metallic patina iris)
  • 8/0 triangle seed beads (matte metallic dark)
Textured kumihimo necklace Photo A
Photo A
Textured kumihimo necklace Photo B
Photo B


The hole through each magatama is on an angle. On one side, the hole is near the center of the bead; on the other, it’s closer to the end of the bead. For this project, string the magatamas going through the side with the hole near the center of the bead and exiting the side with the hole near the end of the bead (Photo A). Make sure the magatamas are all facing the same direction when strung (Photo B).

To mark your place while braiding, move the cord at the top right to the bottom right. Having three cords on one side will indicate where you left off.
Textured kumihimo necklace Photo C
Photo C
Textured kumihimo necklace Photo D
Photo D


[1] Cut four 3-yd. (2.7 m) lengths of Super-lon or #18 nylon cord.

[2] Thread a Big Eye needle on each end of one of the cords. With each needle, pick up eight 8/0 seed beads, 36 color A magatamas, and 45 8/0s, and center the beads on the cord. Remove the needles, and tie an overhand knot at each end to keep the beads from sliding off. Repeat for another length of cord.

[3] Repeat step 2 for the other two cords, but use color B magatamas.

[4] On each cord, find the center of the beads, and push the beads to each end so you have the same number and type of beads on each end of the cord. Center a cord with color A magatamas vertically over the hole of the kumihimo disk. Position one end in the inner slit at the top-right of the disk, and position the other end in the inner slit at the bottom-left (Photo C, a-b).

[5] Repeat step 4 for the other color A magatama cord, but position one end of the cord in the inner slit at the top-left, cross the center hole at an angle, and position the other end in the inner slit at the bottom-right (aa-bb).

[6] Rotate the kumihimo disk 1/4 turn, and repeat steps 4 and 5 with the color B magatama cords (Photo D, a-b and aa-bb).

[7] Wrap each cord end around a bobbin, and secure, leaving about 2 in. (5 cm) of each cord to work with.

[8] Cut a 4-in. (10 cm) piece of 20-gauge wire. Make the first half of a wrapped loop on one end. Slide the center of each cord into the loop. Complete the wraps. Use a Bead Stopper or clip to attach a small weight to the wire stem.

Textured kumihimo necklace Figure 1
Figure 1
Textured kumihimo necklace Figure 2
Figure 2

Making the braid

[1] Without moving any beads, pick up the cord at the top-right position, and bring it straight down to the right of the cord at the bottom-right (Figure 1). Pick up the cord at the bottom-left position, and bring it straight up to the left of the cord at the top-left (Figure 2). Turn the disk 1/4 turn, and repeat.

[2] Repeat step 1 four times.

[3] Continue working as in step 1, but as you pick up each cord, slide down an 8/0 seed bead so it rests under the horizontal cord in the center hole, then position the working cord in the correct slot on the opposite side of the disk. Repeat for all the remaining beads on the cord, keeping a firm tension and making sure each bead sits under the horizontal cord. As you work, try to keep the point of the braid (where the cords are crossing) almost level with the top surface of the disk.

[4] Continue working as in step 1 for a total of three full rotations of the disk Cut a 4-in. (10 cm) piece of 20-gauge wire. Form the wire into a U-shape, and place it over the braid in the center of the hole. This wire will become the wrapped loop you attach the clasp to. Work three more rotations of the disk to capture the wire.

[5] Pick up the two horizontal cords on each side of the disk, bring them to the center, and tie a square knot. Repeat with the vertical cords. Dot the knots with glue, allow to dry, then trim the cords directly above the knot.


[1] On the end of the necklace with the cut cords, keeping the wire in place, wrap one end of the wire tightly around the cord several times just below the knot, and trim.

[2] On the other end of the wire, string an 8 mm bead cap and a 3 mm bead, and make a wrapped loop. Repeat on the other end of the necklace.

[3] Open a 6 mm jump ring, and attach a wrapped loop and half of the clasp. Repeat on the other end of the necklace.

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