The making of a braid, a complex structure or pattern formed by interlacing three or more strands of flexible material such as thread or wire.
This entry refers to braiding techniques which originate in the UK, and does not include the many of forms that are taught and undertaken in the UK involving techniques deriving from other cultures and countries around the world.
|Historic area of significance||Luton (historically associated with hat makers)|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||Neolithic?|
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
|Current no. of trainees||21-50|
|Current no. of skilled craftspeople||21-50 (some UK-origin braiding sub-crafts may have only 1-5 skilled craftspeople)|
|Current total no. of craftspeople||21-50 (doing UK-origin braiding sub-crafts)|
Braiding is the process of creating a complex structure or pattern from three or more strands of flexible material. Compared with the process of weaving (which usually involves two separate, perpendicular groups of strands – warps and wefts), the component strands in a braid usually zig zag under, over or through each other.
Braids are usually long and can be narrow or wide, solid or hollow and flat, circular or irregular in shape. Braids have been made for thousands of years in many different cultures, including the UK, and for a variety of uses. Traditionally, braids were made from indigenous plant and animal fibres, as available in the local area, such as hair, strands of leather, silk or spun nettle, cotton, linen, hemp, straw or wool fibres. However, braids can be made from any flexible strands including man-made materials such as wire and glass fibre.
Loop manipulation braiding
Free end braiding/finger weaving
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
All the braiding techniques are time consuming “hand-made” processes so tend to be undertaken by men and women in or near retirement that have time to spend on craft activities. Very few younger people are involved, so expertise is not always passed on to subsequent generations.
Products are not easily marketable (as they are costly to make).
No shortage of raw materials.
Craftspeople currently known
- See the Tutor’s List on the Braid Society website.
- See list of resources on The Braid Society website