“Mizuhiki” is a thin cord made from starched Japanese paper. The starch makes them stiffer, but still bendable enough to fold and tie for decorations. Similar to how gifts are wrapped with ribbons in the west, gifts in Japan are decorated with mizuhiki designs. Some are extremely elaborate, and because of their versatility, many beautiful accessories are also created with them.
There are different stories about mizuhiki’s origin. One is that when Japanese diplomats sent to China during the Sui dynasty returned home, they brought back gifts from the Sui sealed with red and white flaxen cord. Red and white cords then began to be used to seal gifts to the Japanese imperial household, but the custom eventually spread to gifts of all kinds.
We send money in envelopes for many celebrations in Japan. These envelopes are sealed and decorated with mizuhiki. Depending on the event, there are several traditions of design. Certain colors, numbers of cords, and the method used to tie the knots are all important. Mizuhiki have also become more artistic over time, and the techniques have been used to create many stunning designs.
Mizuhiki are a little difficult to find outside of Japan, but still you can use stiff cords to try making them. In the US, I’ve found that waxed beading cords are a bit similar, and use them in my own accessory designs.
Here is a video “2 DIY Japanese Inspired Accessories Tutorial” by “Best For Her” from YouTube.