From Sue H:
"Traditional balls tend to incorporate geometric designs, rather than
blatant images. Many of the designs form flower or "nature" patterns -
either by their own patterns, or by the "negative space" image that is
left once the pattern is stitched. Those of us westerners will look at
a temari ball from the side and see a lovely upper and lower design
with a wide band through the middle. Those of the east will look
directly at the top or bottom and see the "flower created there, or the
"image of petals" created by the space where the thread does not cover.
Some of the most beautiful designs in temari use very few threads. We
of the west are often duped by the "more is better", or "gilding the
lilly" syndrome. A little sparkle accent, or a few beads are
fine, but in limited quantity.
Japanese art is "understated quality". If one keeps that "spirit" then tradition will be preserved. Please bear with me through a few examples: There is a shrine in Nikko, Japan, dedicated to the Tokugowa, Shogun. The walls of the shrine appear to be brilliant colors (the paint is made from crushed jewels). The intricate woven "patterns" resemble many of the traditional designs used in temari. HOWEVER, it took no less than 32 separate steps in layers for the preparation and final execution of each square inch of wall or ceiling that was decorated in this manner. There are several dozen buildings in the Nikko complex - all done with the same meticulous care and 32 steps. For many works of art that we see from Japan, our western eyes cannot see past the surface... we miss the other 31 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.
When learning a craft or art in Japan, you watch the master for the first forty years, learning everything you can - but you are taught nothing. If the master feels you are sincere after forty years of humbling effort, you will be accepted to apprentice for the next thirty years, repeating over and over the patterns and designs the master has made - you are never allowed to create your own designs. It will only be after the master dies that you can then be acknowledged as a master. Then, if you are REALLY REALLY good (and still alive), you may be designated as a "Living National Treasure". Sarah and I both knew a woman who worked with our sensei. Our sensei and this woman had been childhood friends, and both had been trained by sensei's mother, yet still, after these decades of "training", she did not consider herself a temari sensei, nor did she feel herself qualified on the same skill level as our sensei - even though to our eyes, their work was of equal beauty. So with this "tradition" in mind - we are all "beginners"!!!!" - Sue H.
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, 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 trick is to have all of the spacing symmetric and/or even. Insuring this begins when you wrap the ball, both with yarn and with thread. 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 - and will result in off-kilter patterns. One tip here is to use finer-ply yarn such as sport or baby weight for the yarn layer - the finer weight produces much smoother results.
Likewise, these requirements continue in to the thread-wrapped layer. While lesser amounts of thread may be used, it generally requires a three hundred yard spool for a three-inch (starting size of the base) ball. A generous amount of thread provides a stable surface to embroider on, as well as allowing for increased smoothness and full color coverage over the yarn layer in order to avoid color bleed through. This last thought may be avoided by matching thread and yarn colors, but this also increases the supplies needed - using a little more thread allows for adequate coverage for any color after a basic light or dark yarn wrap.
and marking the ball could be an interesting lesson in
geometry - but the ancient masters have made it quite simple. By using
a thin strip of paper that is initially pinned to an arbitrary spot on
the ball that becomes the "North pole point", and then successively
around the diameter of the ball in all directions from the pole point,
the average - and very accurate - circumference is determined.
strip is then trimmed to this length. By folding it in half, and laying
it around the ball, another pin is placed at the fold mark and
the accurate opposite "South pole point". By folding the strip in
and again laying it against the ball the equator, or Obi, line is
with pins. The strip is then removed while carefully repositioning a
at the North pole point. It is then folded in however many sections the
pattern requires - thirds/sixths, quarters/eighths (etc.),
(etc.) - and laid along the ball aside the pins used to mark the Obi.
pins are then adjusted to mark both the Obi and the needed number of
of the ball.
The ball is then marked, usually with a metallic thread. The marking threads are usually incorporated into the design; occasionally they are not and in this case, the ball would be marked with thread matching the thread wrap. By wrapping the marking thread around the ball adjacent to the pins and pivoting at the North pole, the ball becomes evenly divided. Most patterns also call for a marking thread to be wrapped around the Obi - occasionally not. The threads are tacked at the poles and other intersections and the pins removed. It is important that when placing the marking threads to lay them straight and taught from pin to pin.
Some patterns will further divide the ball from the original sectioning - called combination divisions such as a combination 8. A more intricate, but not difficult, division is marking the ball into twelve equal pentagons, evenly spaced around the ball - also known as combination tenths. This is begun by dividing the ball into tenths, and then doing a series of additional divisions. (While this may sound quite ominous, it really isn't and can be accomplished by even the beginning crafter.) There is of course really no limit to the number of sections a ball may be divided into - and generally the more divisions the more detailed the pattern, although this is not ab absolute rule. After the divisions are marked the major intersections are tacked in place after adjusting for evenness. According to Sue H, form her temari classes in Tokyo," If I may infuse a bit of the Jap-lish that Sensei used in our classes in Japan - What we call C8, or complex 8 here in English, is actually referred to in Japan as 8 COMBINATION same for C10 - it is called 10 COMBINATION - essential starting with a "simple" 8, or 10 division, then adding other division lines. We also called "additional lines" beyond the "combination" group as SUPPORT LINES... which often make sense, since they are usually there to help you keep your stitches straight, or in the right place...as in adding support, for more complicated patterns."
In Japanese the marking threads are called "jiwari" - the technical definition of the word is an allotment of land (grounds); marking out lots. This makes sense when one considers the "earth" terminology used with temari as in "poles" and "equator". Many English-speaking people hear this word and phonetically process it as "jewelry". While certainly not accurate, it nevertheless carries a degree of charm when you consider the marking threads are usually metallic and add the sparkle to the Temari balls. It's not hard to see how the error in hearing and adapting the word is made. Some patterns will have stitch placement in areas other than on jiwari or the intersections of jiwari - additional markings are placed and these are called (not surprisingly) support threads. (with thanks to S. Robinson and S. Hayshi)
the roundness and accuracy has been attended to during the process, the
result is a precisely divided ball that is now ready for stitching.
are only three or four basic stitches used in temari ball creations -
the impressive repertoire that floss or crewel embroiderers are
to. A single herringbone, regular and with one variation that forms the
Chrysanthemum stitch, and a straight stitch form the basic of most
designs. By using the sections and lines formed by marking the ball,
symmetrical (usually) designs are stitched over the marking threads.
there is a basic pattern block that is repeated around the ball, such
squares, triangles, diamonds, filled squares, pentagons....or any other
basic shape that becomes illustrated from the marking threads.
are created by weaving or interlocking the pattern sections or
varying how the sections overlay or connect with each other.
Another major technique in creating Temaris 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 underwrapped pattern may be applied before a stitched pattern. They generally compliment each other wonderfully.
Modern day crafters begin with a preformed Styrofoam or wooden ball form. A more traditional Temari may be made by first making the base - the mari. This may be done by gathering scraps of old fabric. Some must be cut into strips. The remaining is cut into smallish pieces and wadded into the basic shape of a ball. The reserved strips are then wound around the wad to form a ball - and again attention must be paid to achieving as round a form as possible. Some instructors will advise now covering the form with a layer of batting material - this assists in rounding the shape. From here the regular yarn and thread layers are applied. If one is so inclined to make the base mari it is an ideal way to recycle old clothing, socks and fabric scraps. Because of the material contained in the mari these balls are heavier than those done with styrofoam bases and may not be suitable for Christmas ornaments or where they will be hung on equally delicate supports.
completing the Temari they made be left as is, or tassels and hangers
be added. In traditional times the tassels or other adornments would
been made from the traditional Japanese braiding techniques which are
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