~~ What the heck is Bunka? ~~

(From a miniaturist's point of view)

Picture of Bunka

The photograph shows a close-up view of Bunka.

Picture of Unraveled Bunka Bunka is a knitted rayon cord that is similar to the material used to make decorative tassles and graduation tassels. It is shiney, and has a nice drape. This trim is especially valuable to miniaturists, because if the thread is pulled, it unravels into a lovely, loopy, stretchy thread which can be used for many things. Notice the end of the cord in the photograph. It has been unraveled.

The word 'bunka' comes from a Japanese form of punch embroidery. The needle art is called 'bunka', and the thread that is used is actually called 'kayo'. However, the incorrect term for the thread, 'bunka', seems to be more popular among miniaturists. In the art of bunka embroidery, the curly nature of the unraveled cord allows it to be stretched, or left loopy to give the embroidery different textures and appearances.

Bunka is available in dozens of colors. Varigated bunka and metallic bunka threads are also available.

What do miniaturists do with bunka?

Some of the things for which miniaturists use unraveled bunka are curly doll hair, 'lace' trim on the edges of clothing, and as a decorative trim for the edges of pillows. Plain bunka can be used a piping for upholstered miniature furniture. Unraveled bunka has also been used to make rugs. When making rugs, the cord can either be needle-punched into fabric, or can simply be glued onto the fabric. The loopy quality provides a nice pile for a miniature area rug.

This is a picture of a hat with trim made from unraveled bunka:

Picture of Hat with Bunka Trim

This picture shows a dress with plain bunka used as a trim on the jacket:

Picture of Dress with Bunka Trim

This picture shows both plain bunka and unraveled bunka. The piping on the chair was made from plain bunka. The edging on the pillows on the sofa was made from unraveled bunka.

Picture of Sofa and Chair

This is a picture of a rug made from bunka.

Picture of Rug made from Bunka

Where can bunka be purchased?

Bunka is hard to find, if you are looking in the wrong places.

One is not likely to find bunka in craft stores or fabric stores. Some miniature stores carry bunka, and some vendors sell bunka at miniature shows.

If you live near a miniature store, please check with them to see if they sell bunka. Support your local stores! (If your local store does not carry bunka because the owners have never heard of it, feel free to print this page to take with you to the store. :-) ) If you are like me, and don't live within easy driving distance of a mini shop, there are mail-order sources available.

Many thanks to Viola Williams who provided me with the photographs of her dolls, and to Carolyn who provided the pictures of her bunka rug!

© 1998 Alice Buerkle

Send e-mail to me at nyssa at kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu