Sunday, June 24, 2012

Continuous motif - a temari stitching term

An excerpt from my new book Temari Techniques

Do you remember drawing stars in elementary school? You put your pencil on the paper, draw five straight lines along a path without lifting the pencil, and end right back where you started with a five-point star. You can stitch a star on temari in much the same way by taking a basic stitch at each turn your pencil would make. You are not limited to stars, though; there are many other continuous motifs which can be created in the same manner. These are different than shapes like squares and triangles because the thread path will cross over other stitches in the same motif as you stitch.

The Japanese have a phrase, hito hude gake (one stroke of the brush), to describe a kanji character that can be drawn with a single stroke of the calligraphy brush. Temari artists have borrowed this phrase to describe these continuous paths where one single stitching path will create the entire figure. Some motifs have special names because they are so common: hoshi kagari (five-point star) and mitsubane kikkou kagari (triwing).  After exploring the individual hito hude gake motifs, try the “one stroke” technique to complete multiple motifs with just one stitching path. Setting up the path is an intriguing temari puzzle; stitching along the path is a relaxing, almost meditative, experience.

Practice by drawing the path for your first continuous motif on paper to get a feel for how it is created. You could also place pins in your temari and wind perle cotton along the path to visualize the completed motif. Typically, diagrams will have the stitches numbered to help you get started. You can pin numbered slips of paper to the guidelines on the ball to help you stitch the first row.

Note: Renzoku means continuous in Japanese. All of these motifs are stitched with a single, continuous path. The term continuous motif (or hito hude gake) simply adds the requirement that one path is used to complete an outline of the entire motif. It has the same starting and ending points.