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  Kimekomi - Fabric Covered Balls or Dolls     

        If you have used Diana Vandervoort's later books you will have seen her "quilt balls",  and if you have any of the Japanese Temari books you may have some that show "fabric" temari. Some designs may be done in temari methods that incorporate fabric applique along with temari-making methods. However, these should not be confused with another category of decorated sphere (or doll) unto its own, called Kimekomi. These are not temari - they are worked in completely different manners, by starting with a wooden (usually) form, carving grooves into it in the outline of the design and tucking fabric pieces in to create a mosaic-like outcome. The craft of Kimekomi stands on its own as another folk art of Japan.

    "Kimekomi" means to "tuck in" in Japanese.  Cloth, usually made of silk brocade with traditional Japanese design, is tucked  (and glued if needed, but originally and traditionally, only tucked) into grooves carefully carved into (originally) a doll body as a base. More recently (relative to ancient Japanese history), the technique began to be applied to spherical bases.  The base is made of compacted paulownia sawdust mixed with jute fiber and glue, or sometimes carved from wood, before the decorating process begins. Kimekomi is not temari, although some designs can appear to be similar in layout. Sometimes the techniques are combined into one piece, but they are separate and distinct folk art methods.

    The origin of kimekomi dolls dates back to the early 18th century.  Tadashige Takahashi, a priest at the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto, the capital of Japan at that time, created a doll body from scraps of willow wood trees and covered it with left over brocades and silk scraps used for the Shrine festivals. Those dolls were called Kamo dolls.

       Crafts similar to kimekomi have come and gone in popularity, including "quilt balls" that were a popular simple craft not too long ago whereby fabric scraps were tucked into Styrofoam balls to form designs.

Sue H., certified in Japan as a Kimekomi Master as well as Temari Master,  shares with us:

        "In regards to the non-thread temari, you may have encountered a Kimekomi version of these decorated balls, sort of a patchwork look of brocades, and metallic threads.  If the ball appears to be made of fabric pieces where the edges are "tucked" into groves following geometric patterns around the ball, then it is of the Kimekomi variety. Kimekomi is a (relatively) recent Japanese art form using a foam or wood-fiber base into which are cut thin groves in the desired pattern.  Glue is placed into the groves using various hand-carving wood-working tools.  The fabric is scored, then cut leaving only a few millimeters that are carefully tucked into the grove.  There is a similar Scandinavian version that includes covering the grove with metallic braids and accenting the line intersections with beads and such."

        If you are interested in more information about Kimekomi a quick web search will return sites you can check out.


Last updated 12/2013 © 1998 - 2014 G. Thompson/PuffinStuff, Inc.