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Temari Balls

A collection of temari

About a year and a half ago I started learning to make temari balls. It's a Japanese craft with various traditions behind it, so I've adopted and adapted them for myself, starting with Barbara Suess's book Japanese Temari and also the website TemariKai.com.

It's something between a toy and an art object: it's definitely meant to be handled and picked up. I put rattles inside all of mine, so when you shake them they make a gentle sound. I also liked the idea of turning something old and unwanted into something precious and beautiful, so I make my rattles out of bottle lids and old beads or whatever else will make some noise. These are then wrapped inside an old sock or rags to form the core.

Here's a little bit of my process:

My process

1. I wrap yarn around the core to give it a bit of a cushion and to make the shape as round as possible.

2. Then I wrap thread (usually serger thread) to make the base color, until all the yarn is hidden. I've used up to three colors together, but I've also done single colors as well.

3. This is what the wrapped "mari" balls look like, without embellishment.

4. I put on guidelines which will help me with the pattern later. I use pins and a measuring tape to get everything as even as possible.

5. Then, depending on the pattern, I'll use pins to mark where I'm going. I use a thicker embroidery floss for this portion.

6. A temari in progress—most patterns I've done so far allow some of the background to show through, but some patterns will completely cover the background.

The temari ball is traditionally given as a gift of friendship, so all the ones I've made up until now have been gifts or practicing new patterns. I liked the tradition of writing a blessing on a slip of paper and wrapping it into the core, like a fortune cookie that you don't ever open, so I usually try to include one if I know who I'm making one for.

I am not currently offering any for sale, but I hope in the next few weeks to post photos of the temari I've made.

November 08, 2009


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