Monday, September 17, 2012

"Temari Or Not Temari?" Tutorial

 Background Information: Temari (literally translated “hand ball”) is a Japanese folk craft that is alleged to have originated in China and was introduced to Japan five or six hundred years ago. Traditionally, the balls were constructed from wrapped kimono fabric remnants and silk threads. They were made by mothers and grandmothers for children to play with. Nowadays, decorative embroidered temari represent a highly valued and cherished gift symbolizing friendship and loyalty.

Recently I've wondered if your don't use traditional techniques whether you should call what you create "temari". That is an ongoing debate but today I share what I do to make a "non-traditional temari"....

1.I start  with a polystrene ball ( traditionally the balls were wound  silk scraps or other organic materials) and begin to wrap with approx 4 ply wool, turning the ball as I wrap. 
2. I then wrap another layer of wool in a similar fashion , this time a 3 or 2 ply soft wool. I have read that temari artists sometimes wrap first with a fine wadding before wool or thread, but I like the firm feel of two layers of wool - hence the non-traditional ! 
3. Then the third layer is sewing thread - I like to use overlocker thread as it is not slippery and makes the job easier for me. The technique requires that consecutive threads should not lie parallel to each other - I am not sure I always manage that, but I do keep that in mind when wrapping. 
4. Once the ball is covered totally with thread - try some simple free form stitches with metallic threads and/or Perle 5 embroidery floss, for example  the "fireworks" in the image above. Barbara Suess, author of Japanese Temari, a Colorful Spin on an Ancient Craft,( Breckling Press)  suggests that this is good idea to develop the skill of stitching on a three dimensional shape. 
Of course if you want to make a more traditional style of temari.... 

4a. Once the ball is covered with thread, divisions on the ball  can be marked out using a simple paper measuring tape.Cut notches at the half way mark and then according to the number of divisions required for a pattern. This technique and patterns can be found on many websites and I found this one to be the best for beginners

5. Using the paper measuring tape, I divided this ball into what is called a simple 8 division. Again consult the temari website for detailed diagrams and instructions. 
6. The fun part of making temari is the stitching and as the above image shows I have started a very simple star design, by taking small herringbone stitches on alternate division lines. I use Perle 5 thread, but Japanese threads are recommended by most temari artists. 

The temari shown here are all very simple to make. I used to look at temari books and patterns in awe and could never imagine tackling something so complex, but starting with basic designs, even free form stitching, and taking some non-traditional shortcuts like using a polystyrene ball have made the process much less mystifying and manageable for me. I hope you will give it a try, too...  I am still trying out complex designs and am still delighted each time a design works! Just a warning - temari can be addictive! 

Postscript  : Many many thanks to my mother who introduced me to temari and passing on her many good tips and techniques.