Takadai prototype

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John Whitley
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Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 147
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 8:56 pm

Takadai prototype

Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:11 pm

I just searched the forum, and to my chagrin realized that I've apparently never posted anything about my long-term main project, my evolution of the design of the takadai (lit: "high stand"). The takadai is one of a number of contemporary kumihimo (Japanese braiding) stands. It's precise age isn't known, due to an amazing dearth of information in the written record. In short, while kumihimo was a significant industrial art the studios were extremely secretive about their techniques and practices. Even when documentation exists, it often contains deliberate omissions and/or errors, where the correct information was passed down only verbally to school initiates.

Without further ado, here's a couple of photos of myself demonstrating on prototype #1 a few years back at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival:

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Of note, this stand is literally the entire reason I got into woodworking. The wide blue-and-silver silk scarf visible on the table in those photos "broke" my traditional takadai, by which I mean its width made it incredibly inefficient to work. So I set about a long process of tweaking the traditional design in ways that removed certain limitations when working very wide and/or complex braids. Traditional, but with the ceiling lifted on certain kinds of work. (Insert amazingly dull training montage of woodworking, CAD, basic mechanical design, etc. :D ) This design is also deliberately modular, in that components from two stands can be combined into one stand, useful for certain complex work.

While I get my shop up and running, I'm working on a significant revision to this stand based on lessons learned from its use by myself and others. That will include a number of functional and aesthetic revisions.

To get a feeling of how the takadai works in practice, here's a YouTube video of Hiroyuki Kondou, a Japanese master braider.

One last image, of my traditional takadai. This is a common, contemporary design where the braider sits at the stand in a chair. Compare to Hiroyuki-san's stand, where he's seated on a raised platform built into the stand itself. My design takes inspiration from an American artist and braider, Richard Sutherland, who modified his stand for standing-height work.

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Chris Hall
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Location: Greenfield, Massachusetts
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Re: Takadai prototype

Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:43 pm

That's very interesting John! I confess to knowing next to nothing about Japanese kumihomo work, though I do find knots fascinating and used to know a bunch. But the only braiding-like work I ever remember was from childhood, where a wooding thread spool with four nails on top was used to create a braiding cord. I don't remember too much about it, but looking at the frame you have build reminds me of that spool.

I just looked it up, and I think what I had made and used so many years ago was a spool knitter:

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2422c584b96eeaea4a452d53fee436d9.jpg (59.82 KiB) Viewed 310 times
John Whitley
Deshi
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 147
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 8:56 pm

Re: Takadai prototype

Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:00 pm

Thanks Chris. Spool knitters are kinda fun, esp. in that they're an easy way to really "get" what's going on with something like a sock knitting machine.

My takadai work has progressed quite a bit since those photos, primarily in nailing down a lot of little details that weren't ready to put into other people's hands.
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Paul Atzenweiler
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:37 pm

Re: Takadai prototype

Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:16 pm

I love this and I have watched a number of videos on the topic.

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