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My little kumihimo loom got a workout this December, as I made lots of bracelets and necklaces for the women in my family.  Kumihimo is an ancient and utilitarian tradition in Japan, where the braided cords were created for fastening a samurai’s armor, securing the obi on a kimono, and even as a form of meditation for Buddhist monks.  I tried to make each bracelet unique and special, reminding me of the aunt it was intended for.

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I came across these beautiful micro-sized antique green beads in a local bead shop and had to have a few.  When I say micro, I mean that the hanks were two inches long with 28 beads per inch.  I had to use tiny size 12 beading needles and special thread, but the kumihimo part was actually pretty easy.  In doing a little research, these types of seed beads were usually handmade in France and the regions around the Czech Republic for embroidered handbags, and production largely stopped at the end of WWI.  I was amazed that these dainty tubes could easily be over a hundred years old.  I named the bracelet “Fruits of the Spirit,” and it went to an aunt who to me personifies patience, diligence, and doing good work for others.

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When I learned one of my aunts particularly likes the color purple, I decided to go with amethyst spheres and pair them with rainbow moonstones.  I added some vintage purple Charlotte-cut beads (which means some of them have a flattened side that catches the light) to tie it all together.  I named it “Purple Heart” because its owner has overcome some major cardiac troubles, and because she has a wonderful spirit and kind heart.

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When I found these weathered blue teardrops I knew they were just right to go with some frosted seed beads I had.  I named this bright bracelet “Seaglass” because I always think of the beach when I think of a particular aunt, and she tends to like colorful, slightly quirky pieces.  The paler beads actually have an iridescent shine to them, reminding me of the bubbles of sea foam.

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These last two bracelets both have black and clear beads, but use them differently.  The aunts are sisters, which is probably why they came out alike.  I wanted the jewelry to be understated, yet elegant.  I really liked using beads of different sizes for the spiral pattern, and I will probably do it again in the future.

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