Ruth MacGregor Warnick's Improvised Maru dai

My first maru dai improvisation, made of a plant stand, a lampshade, and a wooden plate was inspired by Shirley Berlin. In its very original form, it was just the lampshade; but the lampshade alone proved unstable, and a braiding stand that suddenly topples over can do terrible things to a braid! Looking around the house, I noticed that the plant stand seemed about the right size to hold the lampshade, and in fact, it was perfect! The wooden plate came into the picture when I started braiding finer threads and noticed they were snagging on the edge of the lampshade. The plate made a huge difference. The "peek" holes cut into the sides of the lampshade are also worth noting; the holes let me see what was going on "down under" and also gave easier access to the counterweight.

Last summer's traveling maru dai, made of a cardboard box and a homemade, lightweight, portable "top" (I hesitate to call it a "mirror"). The "top" is made from a wire frame I found in a craft store, a frame clearly intended to serve as the wide end of a lampshade. To eliminate snagging on the inner and outer rings of the frame, I enveloped them in Fimo clay. The result may be a touch lumpy, but it works beautifully! This "top" is tied onto the box with old nylons. To keep the stand from wobbling, I put some of the heavier things from my suitcase into the box, and the result was solid and stable. The lovely box itself was given to me by a friend, with the idea that I could discard it at the end of my voyage; but I liked the fish too much (it's just TOO good!), so it came home with me, too!

These two photos both show the current version of my maru dai, but neither really shows it well. I've sent the two, hoping that one of them will do the trick until I can get a new photo; there's film in my camera, and I'll set myself to it this week and make sure to send the result....Anyway, this braiding stand is made from a metal plant stand and a wooden plate. The height is such that I can braid comfortably while sitting in a chair, which is much easier for me than kneeling or standing. The wooden plate has a diameter of 32 cm (12.5 inches), so it's larger than the usual top on a maru dai; and although that came about just by chance, I really like it. The wider top makes it easier for me to keep things organized when I'm using a larger number of bobbins; and my arms are long enough that the extra "reach" doesn't bother me. The hole in the center measures nearly 4 cm (1.5 inches). I'd originally intended this stand to be temporary, in use just until I could purchase a "real" maru dai; but I like it so much that I now don't see a reason to replace it!

Ruth can be contacted by e-mail.

Since this web page has been public I have heard from other braiders who have improvised their equipment:

From Shirley Berlin: There is also a picture of a lampshade marudai in one of Jacqui Carey's books. She uses a piece of card on top, but depending on your particular lampshade "carcass" you may not need the card. If you are purchasing a lamp shade, get a tall one to provide you with dangle-height, and if it has sloped sides that is a good thing. (You use the fat end on top, which provides a dangling space down the side for the bobbins.I use this idea when living away from home temporarily and use film canister bobbins, filled with the coin of the realm where I happen to be. I take the film canisters with me, but you could probably acquire them locally too. (We travel for work and pleasure so these are not trivial concerns to me! A marudai and bobbins don't usually meet the limits of our weight allowance.) Be warned though - improvised techniques lead to loom lust. (And there is nothing to equal the sound and feel of wooden bobbins.)

From Nan Sexton: My husband has completed a marudai for me using an inexpensive folding seat purchased at Walmart. it has a round wood top on a metal stand. He drilled a hole in the center, used a router to improve the slant on the edges of that and then did much sanding. It is a good height for my sofa and has been a nice addition to a growing collection. There is a bit of awkwardness geting under the top to adjust the weight bag due to the metal structure, but one learns quickly to adapt to little annoyances.
More Improvisation from Rachel Hardy
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Updated March 20, 2001
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