More About Temari...
Traditional balls tend to
incorporate geometric designs, rather than blatant images. Many of the
designs form flower or other nature-inspired designs. This may be
directly by the embroidery, or indirectly through white space - the
areas that are not worked on the mari wrap. For example, many Westerners
may admire a temari, seeing a wonderful design that is stitched on the
north and south pole areas, with an obi added. Those of the east will
see the flower or petals that is created in the white space, where there
is no stitching. Some of the most beautiful designs in temari use very
few threads. It is so easy to be taken in by "more is better", but in
temari, knowing when to stop is much more important. A little
embellishment is fine; too much, not so much.
Japanese art is one of
understated quality. If one keeps that in mind, then tradition
will be preserved. For many works of art that we see from Japan, our
western eyes cannot see past the surface... we miss the many steps that
it takes to achieve a true work of art. To preserve traditional
Japanese-style temari, keep the design simple and use traditional
stitches to form your design. This is, after all, Japanese
Learning a craft or art in
Japan, has, traditionally, been a long and tedious process. While in
ancient times it was also a form of survival, in modern day it still
requires dedication that many of us would find hard to grasp. In
Japanese apprenticeships, which could begin as young as the age of 3 or
6, you begin by watching the master for the first forty years, learning
everything you can - but you are not directly taught anything (though
during much of this time, one would often be serving as a house and/or
shop servant in exchange for room and board and living
necessities). If the master feels you are sincere after
forty years of humbling effort, you will be accepted to apprentice for
the next thirty years; you will be taught the master's techniques,
repeating over and over the patterns and designs the master has made.
You never are allowed or would be so bold as to create your own designs.
It will only be after the master dies that you can then be acknowledged
as a master, if his peers deem you worthy. Then, perhaps, if you
are very exceptional (and still alive), you may be designated as a
"Living National Treasure". It is not uncommon for the most revered
masters to be so humble as to still consider themselves students.
While Master Temari
crafters embellish some balls with freehand embroidery incorporated into
the patterns, the techniques of basic patterns are quite simple. In
fact, making a ball is deceptively simple in relation to the results.
Rather than requiring a lot of artistic or needle working talent, the
balls call first for precision and attention to detail, right from the
beginning. While one may think that "wrapping" the ball" is an
insignificant step in preparation that can be done quickly, yet it is
here that attention to detail must begin. One of the hallmarks of Temari
craftsmanship and a standard by which a finished ball is judged is how
evenly the pattern travels around the ball. The goal is to have all of
the spacing symmetric and/or even. Insuring this begins when you wrap
, beginning with the first yarn layer. The wraps
must be evenly distributed and around the full diameter of the ball -
both to prevent the layers from sliding off and to maintain the ball's
roundness. If wrapped unevenly and out of round, then dividing and
marking of the ball will not be even; any design will thus be uneven.
If the roundness and accuracy
has been attended to during the process, the result is a precisely
divided ball that is now ready for stitching. There are only three or
four basic stitches used in temari ball creations - not the impressive
repertoire that floss or crewel embroiderers are accustomed to. A single
zi-zag stitch, regular and with one variation, and a straight stitch
form the basic of most Temari designs. By using the sections and lines
formed by marking the ball, geometrically symmetrical (usually) designs
are stitched over the marking threads. Usually there is a basic pattern
block that is repeated around the ball, such as squares, triangles,
diamonds, filled squares, pentagons....or any other basic shape that
becomes illustrated from the marking threads. Variations are created by
weaving or interlocking the pattern sections or otherwise varying how
the sections overlay or connect with each other.
Another major technique in
creating Temari is to wrap the ball in various patterns and directions
rather than stitching. By planning the order in which the layers are
wrapped beautiful variations are possible, and very intricate designs
are possible. Some balls use a combination of both - an under-wrapped
pattern may be applied before a stitched pattern. They generally
compliment each other wonderfully.
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