Tsumami Zaiku Basic Techniques

Tsumami zaiku is a traditional Japanese craft that is accessible to everyone. Its accessories are beautiful and delicate, but they are not difficult to create. You just need a bit of patience.

When I first saw these beautiful Japanese hair ornaments, I did not think I could make one myself. But after learning the basic method, I discovered that it was actually really simple.

It begins with a cloth square. The size of the square determines the size of the hair piece. Most squares are 0.75 to 1.5 inch size, but I recommend using 1.5 inch size squares when you are just beginning, since it is easier to practice the folding techniques with larger ones. I mentioned patience, but when you make your squares, precision is very important. In this way, it is a lot like origami. In order to get a perfect square, recommend to use a cutting mat with scale on and a rotary cutter.

A basic tsumami zaiku flower uses 5 squares, but it differs depending on what you are making.

Then, it’s just tucking the square cloth and gluing it down, which creates the shape of a flower petal. There are 2 main tucking methods:

One is called “Maru-tsumami.” “Maru” means round in Japanese, so the edge becomes round using this way.

The other is “Ken-tsumami.” “Ken” means sword, so the edge becomes sharp like a sword.

Traditionally, starch was used for glue, but modern tsumami zaiku craftspeople buy their glue at the store. You can use regular glue, but I find that Aleene’s “Fast Grab Tacky Glue” works better on fabric and oparation.

After you have created the individual flower petals, you arrange them together to make the flower itself. You can make infinite kinds of creations with different combinations of tucking, colors, sizes, and arrangement.

The process of making the petals and arranging them is not difficult, but it does take patience. I find the process meditative and use it to clear my mind. Tsumami zaiku, like many traditional Japanese crafts, can be used to calm and center oneself. I hope after trying it yourself, you will come to love making tsumami zaiku accessories as much as I do!

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