3,300 people passed through the Samurai Exhibit at the Portland Art Museum on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Myself and seven other mentors provided the kumihimo activity which attracted over 200 people during the four hours. We made 200 kits with plastic cording for people to practice Hishinui (the cross lacing stitch found on the bottom plate of armor). Over 700 yards of yarn were used to make 16-element Kongo Gumi key rings on the foam braiding disks. Six marudai were in use at all times. There was also a giant marudai stand where teams of four people produced a rope-like maru genji interlacement. Parents and grandparents were as eager as the children to try their hand at braiding
When people first learn to braid 16-element Kongo Gumi on the foam braiding disk, they usually choose four colors divided in pairs opposite each other on the circle. However, there are a lot more designs than the barber pole striped version.
In Rosalie Neilson's newly published book, Kongo Gumi A Cacophony of Spots - Coils - Zags - Lines, she documents the definitive collection of 1,157 two-color designs. Experieneced braiders will be able to see where to add a third and fourth color in the designs.
Children's Maru Genji Braids tied inot fanciful knots - a group effort of many teams of kids and parents and grandparents.