Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to make a temari ball

To make a temari:
first, dress in kimono (just kidding!)

Isn't she lovely?! My daughters always loved to dress up and were happy to wear kimono for an afternoon and let me take some photos. I took this about eight years ago to show how to wrap the core with thread. There is a lot of information on my website about making temari. The list of temari techniques is on a How-To page.
Tips on making the ball are on a separate page here: How to make a round Japanese temari ball.

Back when I took that picture, I used to place cones of serger thread in cups on the floor for the last steps in the wrapping process. Now, I don't use the cups since the cones stand up just fine without the cups. The trick is to keep the cones of thread close together and hold your temari directly above them. Then wrap, watch TV, watch a movie, relax, listen to music or whatever you like to pass the time while you cover the ball with thread. Click on those links above to learn more about making a temari ball.

Hometown Temari by Tomokazu Arai
One of the best investments in temari I ever made was getting this book translated. It was published in Japanese in 1990. The author traveled across the country and interviewed temari makers to document how they learned the craft as well as their techniques and designs. By the photos of the artists in the book, I can see he interviewed a lot of old ladies! Furosato no Temari is filled with photographs of temari and the stories behind them. 

The ingredients they used in their temari were mostly natural and taken from what was abundant around the residence of the artist. A traditional way to make the core in Tsuruoka City was to take a clamshell, fill it with sand, pack wood chips around it, then wrap it again with zenmai (fern fibers), and complete by wrapping the core with thread.

In the old days of Matsumoto, people went into the mountains and collected cocoons to use as cores. They rolled fern fibers around them, then stitched the design with thread dyed with plant extracts such as indigo. In many cases, the stitching was only the last, small part of the whole process. 

A temari maker from Muraoka used grass seeds for the core to make her temari hard enough to bounce.

In Shuugetsu temari, a seashell with a small stone in it was used as the core, then wrapped with rice husks. This temari made a very light sound when shaken. 

I hope these little stories inspire you to look around your home and garden to select ingredients for the core of your temari that will not only make a good ball for stitching but have some meaning when it's all done. When making temari as a gift, that's what I do. Think about the recipient and look for meaningful ingredients. I might make a little noise box and fill it with sea shells, shiny beads, or beans. Drop that into a sock filled with dried lavender or a rice hulls/rose petal combination. Wrap with yarn leftover from an old craft project. And finally cover the ball in a thread color I think he/she will like. It seems I'm usually making temari in quantity for publication or teaching projects, so I don't take the time to do all this "feel good" preparation. But I sure love it when I do.