Also known as Bobbins – Tama are made of hard wood,  turned on a lathe to create an hour-glass shape and loaded with a specified amount of lead weight. Tama are used to store the working threads and act as tensioning weight. The weight of the tama is not as critical as the relationship between the total tama weight and the counter-weight; the interaction of the two determine the length of the floats of thread in a braid and thus the density of the braid. This tensioning weight, combined with counter-weight assures a tight, uniform braid. In Japan, common tama weights are 100 grams and 240 grams. In addition to 100 grams and 240 grams, tama sold in the USA are now available in various sizes and weights, from 30 grams, 40 grams, 70 grams, & 85 grams. In Japanese there is no “s” added to a word to create a plural so you have one tama, two tama, three tama etc.

 A larger tama was introduced to assist in making braids with beads dropped into the braid.  They are designed to accommodate Continuous Beaded Braids (CBB) or also called Beads as Fiber, a technique developed by Adrienne Gaskell. These tama are deeper and broader, allowing the beaded element to be wound onto the tama more easily.

Be sure to read Shirley Berlin’s instructions here on how to keep your tama smooth.

Also, here is a LINK to Michael Hattori’s video on tama handling.