Friday, June 4, 2010

Feature Friday: Temari

This week's feature is the beautiful craft of Japanese temari.  The word literally means hand (te) ball (mari).  These are colourful, often very intricate, embroidered thread balls.  There are some excellent examples and instructions available online.  The Temari Book by Anna Diamond is an excellent resource I was able to pick up a few years ago.  There don't seem to be a lot of temari resources available, compared to other crafts, but they're well worth seeking out.

Here are a few I've made in the past.

Mixed Media

A basic temari is a round core, such as the foam balls found in the craft departments of many stores, wrapped in a thick layer of sewing thread.  There can be a layer of quilt batting wrapped around, first.  It's important for the thread to be wrapped randomly, so that the embroidered threads are properly gripped.  This ball was divided into 2 poles and 8 segments.  I call this one Mixed Media because, instead of the usual embroidered obi (design around the equator of the mari), I did a peyote stitch band.  The threads are DMC cotton embroidery thread, with metallic embroidery thread marking the segments and outlining the star pattern.

The embroidery is really quite simple, involving little more than tacking the thread into the sewing thread base at specified points.

Mardis Gras

I call this one Mardis Gras because of the colour combinations.  Although this is done much the same way as any other star pattern, this one was divided into an odd number of segments - 15 in this case - which gives it that swirled appearance.

Overlapping stars

Along with the "north" and "south" poles, the mari can have extra centres added.  This one has 6 centres.  Six, four pointed, overlapping stars created this pattern.

Star patterns can also be worked on egg shaped cores.  They're quite a bit more challenging to wrap!  Here are a couple of eggs I made.


This is the top (narrow end) and obi of an all cotton embroidery thread egg I made.


The bottom was done the same was the top, but the width changes the appearance considerably.


I tried it with rayon thread, as well.  I don't recommend it unless you have a lot of patience!  The thread is very slippery, which the egg shape made even more difficult to work with.  The final result is really quite beautiful, though.

The round balls in the above photos were done on three inch foam cores.  I would definitely recommend that as a starting size.  The first ones I did were 1 1/2 and 2 inch balls.  The smaller sizes are more of a challenge to wrap the sewing thread around - I frequently lost my grip and had to go chasing after it - compared to the larger size.  They're also easier to divide, mark and stitch.  I find wrapping the cores to be the biggest job, as it takes quite a while to fully cover the core with a good, deep layer of thread.  A strip of paper and pins is used to mark the poles, equator and pattern.  Even simple patterns look delightfully complex when they're done. 

The first temari I made were my yearly Christmas craft, and I liked it so much, I did it for two years in a row.  It's a beautiful craft, and well worth giving a try.

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