Long Magatama Kumihimo Necklace: DIY Art Therapy

I have been documenting my DIY art therapy journey. To this end, I published a guide on how to make a basic 8-strand Kumihimo braid (for beginners), then how to make a beaded Kumihimo braid. Today's post will demonstrate how you can use not only seed beads but also long magatama beads for a Kumihimo braid that can be used for bracelets or necklaces. This is arguably more difficult than papier maché or paper mache, especially for children. It is also a bit more repetitive and therefore not necessarily ideal for everyone as a means of treating anxiety (including PTSD) and other serious mental health challenges (including bipolar disorder).

Art therapy: kumihimo braid necklace with beads

 This is by no means a definitive guide since it was my first attempt. In that case, I will be happy for your suggestions for improvement.

To Make a Kumihimo braid, you will need:
  • A Plan of the final product. This plan will include details like the length of the necklace overall, and, if applicable sub-sections. Below was my plan to make a 17 inch necklace. It would be symmetrical with 3 sections. Starting from one end, the first section will be 5.5 inches, the second 6 inches and the first section would be like the first.

  • Beading Cord

  • Beading Cord Diameter & Type: #18  S-Lon Beading Cord. As an alternative, you may use C-Lon beading cord (a different brand with very similar type of beading cord but different colors). 


  • Beading Cord Length: as a rule of thumb, each of the 8 warps (or lengths of beading cord) should measure roughly 3 times the length of the final product. (This measurement already allows for the extra length needed to knot the ends. NB Unlike the unbeaded version, the beaded kumihimo braid can not be stretched and elongated.). Example:

For the 17 inch Kumihimo necklace pictured above, I needed:

17 inch Kumihimo braid  *  3 = 51 inches per warp
  • Long Magatama Seed Beads & Regular Seed Beads    

    • The required amount of seed beads is measured in terms of how much length of S Lon beading cord they occupy. The beads should be strung on each warp until 1.5 the length of the beaded part of the final product. This measurement has applied almost precisely for me.


The 1st section of my Kumihimo braid will be 5.5 inches long. I therefore needed 2.75 inches of beads strung along each warp.  Do this for each beaded section.

  • A Big Eye Needle (optional)
  • Beeswax (optional for threading the beads. However, since these beads were much larger than my first Kumihimo beading attempt, it was easy to thread them with a needle.)
  • A Kumihimo Disk (round)
  • A pair of Scissors
  • A Calculator
  • A Pen
  • A Weight. This may be something like a bunch of keys or, as in my case, a bulldog clip onto which I could hook other things for additional weight if I need. The more weight you use, the better. Weight is particularly important for aligning this heavier and chunkier type of bead as you make a necklace or bracelet.
  • Strong glue. Either E6000® Craft Adhesive (the preferred glue among artists) or contact cement
  • Jewellery ends. Based on your string diameter, you'll also need 2 glue-on cord tip ends, 2 jump rings and a toggle clasps. You could complete braiding and even tying off the ends before taking a safe break during which to find the appropriate ends. Alternatively, if you are creative and proficient wire wrapping, you can make most or even all of these jewellery ends with a sufficiently stiff wire.
  • Jewellery making pliers. Once you plan on using metal jewellry ends, this item applies, even if you do not make the jewellery ends. You will only need any 2 of the following: flat nose pliers; bent nose pliers or chain nose pliers. (These pliers will help you to open and close connections like jump rings.) On the other hand, if you are making the jewellery ends, will need additional pliers. Depending on the design, you are likely to need wire cutters with a rounded jaws and pointed tips (for cutting wire in small spaces and close to the wire); round nose pliers and; bale making pliers.

Instructions: How To Make a Kumihimo Braid with Sead Beads
  1. Draw and, taking into consideration your supplies, (continually) revise your plan of the final product. In my case, I wanted to braid a 17 inch necklace whose 2 ends of seed beads would have a length of 5.5 inches while the center section of long magatama beads would have a length of 6 inches.
  2. Prepare lengths of warps and the Kumihimo disk as normal.
  3. Thread only the amount of beads required for the 1st beaded section. See above how many beads you need.
  4. Use the same Kumihimo braiding technique as before. See instructions on how to make an 8 warp beaded Kumihimo braid
    . Remember to start braiding an unbeaded length that can fit into the jewelry ends. Measure the braid routinely.

    Art therapy: kumihimo necklace with beads

    -- --

  5. When you reach the desired length for the 1st beaded section, handle each warp in turn as follows. Remove any unused 'section 1' beads. Place the end of the warp back into the slot of the Kumihimo disk to maintain tension and to prevent the braid from unravelling.
  6. Thread the long magatama beads onto the warp. There are a few very noteworthy considerations that distinguish long magatama beads.

      All beads should be threaded in the same direction on all warps. When threading magatama beads, note that the hole either directs your needle up or downwards towards the other side (of the bead). Monitor your consistency by the way in which the needle travels through the bead. When I threaded upwards, the result was the fringed bottom at my starting point.
      The way the Long Magatama seed bead on the far right has been threaded is inconsistent with the other beads. If you see this, remove and rethread beads like that.
    2. If you are using different colors, distribute different colors so that single colors are on any single warp.
    3. In addition to tucking the beads underneath the perpendicular warp, also ensure that the pointed end of the bead is pointing outwards. The process can become easier as the braid develops because you can look down through the hole of the Kumihimo disk to see the direction of the previous beads. You can use those other beads as a guide for pointing your long Magatama bead in the appropriate direction. 
  7. After knotting the ends, use the pen tip to turn around beads that turned inwards or out of line.

Afterwards, I had no more long Magarama seed beads but 1 and 1/3 containers of the regular seed beads.

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