Masako Kinoshita specializes in the Japanese braiding techniques of Kumihimo, using a stand and bobbins, and Kute-uchi, an archaic braiding technique that predates the stand-and-bobbin method. Kute-uchi categorically belongs to the loop-manipulation (l-m) braiding technique, an ancient braiding technique with a worldwide distribution.
Kute-uchi has two distinct ways of manipulating the loops. In one, looped ends of braiding yarn are mounted on the fingers and manipulated by the hands, which is the method used by the majority of l-m techniques. In the other, the loops are slipped on to the palms and held taught to keep the sequential order of the loops. The loops are passed one at a time from one hand to the other following preset formula. The latter is known as the HAND-HELD (h-h) method against the former which is known as the FINGER-HELD (f-f).
She teaches both techniques as well as finger-operated l-m techniques in 1- to 4-day workshops at various levels and in 3-hour hands-on introductory courses at conventions and guild programs. She also gives lectures on the history of braiding techniques and basic theory on braid structures.
Kumihimo braids are made using a stand to support the strands, the ends of which are wound on weighted bobbins. For the workshops, the stand and bobbins, made of wood, may be purchased, or built at home using cardboard for the stand and bolts and nuts for the bobbins.
The term Kute-uchi was coined by Masako and refers to a set of braiding techniques which she reconstructed from a cryptic record of proprietary techniques found in a nineteenth century treatise; Kute-uchi requires no tools other than a beating sword for tightening the structure. She has proven that these techniques were used to construct the 7th century braids in the Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum, the 8th century braids in the Shosoin Treasures, and all the well-known braid treasures from the 10th to 16th centuries, such as the ryomen kikko (double face tortoise-shell design) braid at the Mitake Shrine, Ome-shi, Tokyo. She has also shown that kute-uchi was an essential industry in supporting the vast demand for lacing braids used in Japanese armor from ancient times through the Middle Ages.
Samples of l-m braids:
EXAMPLE 1: Four examples made using Kute-uchi
EXAMPLE 2: Choker: Twice Braided
EXAMPLE 3: Examples of 2-color-loop design form the Tollemache Collection
EXAMPLE 4: Three examples from the Tollemache Collection
Reconstructed Kute-uchi braids collection no. 1
Reconstructed Kute-uchi braids collection no. 2
Masako KinoshitaÅfs publications:
STUDY OF ARCHAIC BRAIDING TECHNQUES OF JAPAN, KYOTO: KYOTO SHOIN, VIII, 359 PP., 1994. $315.00.
EXHIBITION 2004 ÅeINVITATON TO LOOP BRAIDINGÅf ; ILLUSTRATED CATFALOG, IV, 88 PP., 2005. $35.00 + H&S
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