Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Paper is Fiber, Too!

I recently got a Mizuhiki cord kit from Crafter's Choice. For those who haven't heard of it, Mizuhiki is a thin, strong paper cord made in Japan. It's used to tie decorative knots for traditional ceremonial greetings, and I hear it's also used by Sumo wrestlers to tie their hair!

The kit included 3 packages of Mizuhiki cords (10 36" cords ea.), a booklet with instructions for a number of knots, and a roll of double-sided tape for adhering the knots to greeting cards, packages, barettes, etc.

Learning to tie Mizuhiki is for the patient, I found last night. It took me over an hour to create the two knots shown here:

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Labor-intensive Knotting!

What you do, as a beginner, is you shape one cord into the form of the desired knot. Then you weave, one by one, additional cords into the same pattern, aligning them with the first as you go. It's tricky to hold the loops in place at first, but the more cords you add, the better it looks and the better it holds together.

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Clamshell Knot

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Abalone Knot

The various knots seem to be named after seashells or flowers - at least those I've seen so far. I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to do before exhausing the kit, though - these two knots alone used up 10 cords, about a third of those supplied.

I don't think there's any risk of Mizuhiki becoming a major technique for me. But I'm pleased I had the chance to get this kit inexpensively, and to introduce myself to yet another aspect of the Japanese art and culture I so admire.