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 (see also weaving).
|Historic area of significance|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK|
|Current no. of professionals (main income)|
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
|Current no. of trainees||21-50 through Braid Society workshops alone.|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
||21-50 experienced Braid Society members. Unknown number of others.|
|Current total no. of leisure makers
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
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. Most braiding would have been done by individuals for their own or local use.
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 zigzag 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.
Loop manipulation braiding
Free end braiding/finger weaving
Many basket making techniques involve elements of braiding. Exchange between basketmakers and braiders is important.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
All the braiding techniques are time consuming handmade processes and are often undertaken by men and women in or near retirement that have time to spend on craft activities. Fewer 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.
There are also a significant number of people engaged in braiding outside of the Braid Society, including through re-enactment and textiles societies.
- See list of resources on The Braid Society website