Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New(ish) hobby: Temari balls

As is the case with many creative types, I've realized that I'm happiest when I spend as much time as possible in the creation of something- be it glass, my garden, food, crafts, you name it.  I like having several open projects at at time, and like having at least a few projects that I can work on outside the studio, often when my husband and I are relaxing together after work.  Last year, most of my projects were for our wedding in September of 2016.  (We made a LOT for our wedding, but that's for a separate post.)   As last Christmas approached, I wanted to make some non-glass gifts for family, so I looked to my craft "bucket list" (the list of things I want to learn someday), and remembered an article I read about Japanese Temari.  I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole was... 

About Temari: These intricately embroidered cloth and thread balls have a rich history in China and Japan.  Originally made as toys for kids, Temari later became a folk craft, given on important occasions, or as an auspicious gift for the New Year.  Traditionally, temari are made with recycled materials- rice hulls for the core, yarn and fabric scraps to create the mari (ball), and then decorated with threads in intricate geometric patterns.  To read more about temari and their history, here are a few links: 

My first temari really sucked.  I hadn't learned yet about properly marking divisions, winding thread so that it doesn't unravel into a tangled mess, and laying out a design properly.  Geometric patterns on a sphere are NOT to be eyeballed.  As is the case with tile setting, a very small variance on one end of a project turns into a very large glaring mistake.  I learned those lessons the hard way (and am still learning them).  I do love making them, and I've embraced the process of learning, of making mistakes, of starting slow and enjoying the ride.  

This is my second temari, with a much simpler basketweave design (that still has quite a few minor errors).  

Instead of the traditional rice hull (or fabric) core, I've been using glass marbles as the core to my temari, and it gives them a really nice weight.  The process of these temari is as follows: I start with the marble (often only a 1" marble), then wrap it in LOTS of yarn to get the mari close to the size I want.  Then, I wrap the yarn with a LOT more thread, to completely cover the yarn and to provide a base onto which I can stitch/ embroider the design using perle cotton (it holds together a bit more nicely than embroidery floss).  The stitching starts with division lines, separating the mari into 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 sections.  I took pics of a simple Uwagake Chidori Kagari (overlapping zigzag ) kiku (chrysanthemum) design.  This is a very common beginner design in temari, with almost endless variations to explore within this technique alone.   

Most I've kept, and some I've given away as gifts.  I doubt I'll ever sell the temari I made, as they are so time intensive, I'm still quite slow, and have a lot still to learn.  

This gray and tan toned set is one I hope to continue building- playing with increasingly complex divisions/ designs, all made to fill a basket  that sits on our dining room table.  


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