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.