Basic Odoshi-Ito Lacing Techniques
Before you begin to lace a samurai armour with odoshi ito you will need to understand some of the basic techniques. Making points, and finishing ends are some of the first problems you will encounter. These quick guides will help you get the best results from your work.
Making An Odoshi Ito Point
In order to pass the odoshi through the holes a plate you will need to shape the ends into points. If a point is made incorrectly it will break during the lacing process. It’s worth taking the time to ensure that your tips are perfectly formed and robust.
1. Use some fabric PVA glue. Stroke the glue into the strands of the odoshi until an excess is removed.
2. Cut the end of the odoshi off with a sharp craft knife or scissors. Twist the end between your fingers, add a little more PVA if required.
3. Wipe the glue off your fingers with a damp rag. Sometimes you need to make around thirty tips, so making a finger bath is useful. Now you can leave the point to dry for a few hours. If you require the point to be less flexible (kebiki-odoshi) add some superglue to the PVA coated area.
Anchoring The Ends
If you are lacing in the kebiki style you will need to make an anchor to secure the odoshi in place. Also this rule applies to finishing a end once cut, even when lacing in sugake oddity you will need to cut an edging braid such as a mimi ito. Making a tidy anchor is easy to do.
1. Leave about 5mm of the odoshi free. Add some fabric PVA to the end and allow it to start to cure.
2. Trim the odoshi down to a few mm. The PVA will prevent it from fraying. Fold the braid fibres in on itself and compress them. After the stick form the fibres into a small ball. The anchor should look neat with no stray stands.
Odoshi is never pulled tight, each strand should be able to sit comfortably in place. However the weight of the plates sometimes pulls the odoshi resulting in the undesired stretching of the braid. This is most common to the sugake style. To prevent this plug each hole with some washi paper. Cut a small square, damp it and swirl it into the hole using a dental tool. Once dry the paper should fill the hole and stop the odoshi from moving in either direction.
I have a special armour stand that acts as a frame. I can suspend items such as gessan, sode and shikoro for it allowing me to access both sides of the armour plates. Originally I used a wire adjustable shelving system like you see for office use. making the investment in a good stand will pay off, you can work faster, and most importantly you can hang each plate to ensure a level and correctly space distance is achieved.