Professionalism of SHOWEN
With over 60 years of handcrafted experience, as well as, over 50 years of machine-crafted experience, SHOWEN delivers to the world the finest quality of traditional and innovative Kumihimo products.
Preserving and Redefining the Traditional Handcraft Production
We have been excelling the handcraft (called "tegumi") of kumihimo and ojigime (for kimono) productions since our foundation of the company. Our in-house craftsmen make hand-made kumihimo for customers who are interested in high-quality, custom-made braids. These handcrafters continue to develope new braids and product designs by using "tegumi" kumihimo techniques, which are our fundamental strength.
Within our two kumihimo schools, our professionals continue improve our "tegumi" technique. As a company and as a school, we have a lot of handcraft tools to meet the demands of traditional obijimes kimono orders as well. Please see below:
The craftsman sits down in a 1 meter (3.3-foot) square work place and braids by crossing the thread through a specific sequence of wooden pegs. The sequence of wooden pegs can vary from ten to over a hundred, depending on the complexity of the kumihimo's design. Moreover, projects made with the Takadai are very tedious and takes many decades to master.
This is a basic braiding tool which uses a square board and an raised woven braid. The braid is woven from the top to the bottom using specific threaded counterweights to acheive a certain tautness. We offer a demonstration of this classic tool at our SHOWEN Store in Uji, Kyoto.
Marudai is a classic tool that creates the kumihimo braid from the bottom to the top. The kumihimo braid is created by moving the weighted spools of thread in a clock-wise fashion along the circular wooden board. The kumihimo is then produced through the center hole of this tool. Marudai specializes in rounded or square-shaped kumihimo that range in complexity of more than 50 threaded spools.
Kumihimo braiding with this tool is similar to textile. Horizontally crossing the thread with varied weighted spools will determine the dexterity of the braid. The heavier the spool, the tauter the braid will be. On the contrary, the lighter the spool, the more flexible the braid will be.
Popular Craft Products of Machine-made Kumihimo
We have been utilizing kumihimo machinery since 1958. Although we have the ability to mass produce kumihimo braids, our attention has always been about how to make our high-quality machine made products reach the quality of our hand-made kumihimo products. Thus we are constantly improving the mechanics and tools of all our machines to match the quality of all our handcrafted items. Today we have over 60 kumihimo machines and craftsmen in the factory to produce the machine-made high-quality kumihimo products. Because of the craftsmanship and the high quality assurance, we have received the reputation from our customers as a collective of artists and designers, and not the reputation of an industrial line.
We mainly use silk, polyester, and rayon to manufacture our kumihimo. Our thread experts select the type and amount of thread to meet the product's specification and demand, such as, how sturdy braids must be versus how long the braid must be. Before the machine braiding process begins, designers combine these threads in a hand-spun process called "Hejaku," which requires special handling and knowledge of the thread.
Production Schedule Control
Each machine is powered by a series of belts and gears. The kumihimo machine has various cogs and movement patterns similar to a rotary clock. The patterns, combinations, and manufacturing time vary for each braid. For multiple orders on one machine, we need a working schedule to optimally produce the same design/quality kumihimo. Particularly for a large quantity order, which may take a couple of month to produce, we will need to make sure other machines are open to make small production orders.
Maintenance and Improvements
Our oldest machine is over 50 years old, but it is still working like new. We maintain our our machines to make sure our output is up to our highest standards. Whenever we have a problem, we take apart the machine and fix them. While on the other hand we have improved those machines, as needed, to maintain our production of high-quality kumihimo.
High Quality Tassel Machine
This particular machine uses needles, steam, and gears to create a very high quality tassel. Even if the needle's angle is slightly wrong, the result may not be up to our standard of quality. Our craftsmen, having an extensive experience with this machine, produce a high-quality tassels and have received the reputation of having "the best tassel" and "craftsmanship" among our customers.
|Thread Experts||Production Schedule Control||Maintenance and Improvements||High Quality Tassel Machine|
"Thread to Product" Creativeness
Our most important tasks are not only manufacturing the product, but also creating the design work and manufacturing process from raw materials to the final kumihimo-based products.
Each craftsman plays a role in furnishing the raw materials to the final products. During this process, he or she plans each step of the manufacturing process in full detail. Therefore, each craftsman in each process will work efficiently. Our experts work together on project teams and have the same professional mindset as they work together to create the final product.
For over 60 years, we have created thousands of products. Once we have a successful product, we use the same technique and improve upon it. Today we deliver products based on such experiences. For example, we created a strap for digital cameras based on our long-time knowledge of our strap product.
|Detailed Process||Finished Products|
Always the Best Selection of Thread
We have always selected the best threads for kuhimiho, in order produce the best product for our customer.
Our long-time friend, Ms. Toshiko Tanaka, who is popular and active in the braiding market and Mr. Shoen Hashida, who is an authority of the flower braiding (we met him at NHK Television Network), and other experts like our "Edo" kumihimo using Toray Sillook. We have researched many thread materials around the world, discussed with thread manufacturers, and finally agreed that this thread is our flagship thread. The experts agreed with our choice of Toray Sillook because it has the best color sheen and provides the sturdiness to endure the manufacturing process.