Christmas temari balls – holiday decorations

December 7, 2009

After a twelve-week semester of university study (and some eight or so weeks before the next semester), here’s a series of small temari (all 25cm circumference) in red/white’green, with Christmas in mind.

The mari bases all use sewing machine thread; the division lines are DMC perle cotton gold, split in half (the two-ply by itself is rather too thick for my liking); the perle cotton #5 used is the Madame Tricote line distributed by I stuck mostly to Red, Dark Green and White, but the Hime-style (front row, far right) uses a combination of dark watermelon (lot of purple in the red) and a light yellowish green – a red/green quite at odds to the others and used only sparingly in this exercise. For the temari-makers, I started with the easy ones in the front row and got progressively more difficult in terms of surface design with the ones in the back row done last. The JD turned out better than expected (no awkward pileups at the obi line) but the kousa interwoven near all-over was done on a ball a bit too small (and certainly not round enough!). The ones in the middle row are those where I moved radically away from the original design into unchartered waters.

I wanted to keep the designs as simple as possible, somewhat inspired by antique temari from Japan as seen at, the New York dealer. Mine are much more complex than even these original, authentic examples. To this extent, I’ve included no Complex 10 division temari balls.

I had wanted to introduce something of the green-grey that we know here in Australia from living among eucalpytus trees. I have managed however to introduce some Pea Green into the mix because Christmas falls in the middle of high summer here in Australia. This year has seen a lot of late Spring rain so the olive greens and greys of the underside of leaves are mixed with the light green of new growth – calistemons and grevilleas, brunsfellsias and so on.

Pea Green also happens to have been introduced by marketeers and advertisers into this year’s c0lours for Christmas, perhaps denoting a new economic and financial optimism – or the creation of a market for same! Its effect ultimately is to “soften” the harsh Hunter Green and China Red somewhat. Part of the beauty of temari is judicious use of hues (particularly going from light to dark, the ungen so common to Japanese textiles) and so I’ve used some two light greens and two light reds.  Of course, the colors “change” when certain combinations are put next to each other: the “yellow” in Pea Green can become more pronounced depending on what other colors are used around it, for example. There is something very “rigid” about the very strong, traditional Red/Green complimentary colors.

Spontaneous variations to stitch and design were made to the surface patterns I was copying. I started to copy someone else’s pattern, but then halfway through decided to change tack completely. This is a new way of working for me. I’m normally a strict copier, something only validated after examining the way Japanese approach these things: they copy for the first fifteen years (with the traditional apprenticeship in mind) before considering the notion of innovation or personal creativity (as we understand it in the West).

Some of you will recognise where I got the original designs from – Ozaki, Anne Diamond.

Had I thought of it earlier, I might have consulted the December 2009 color palette created for the Take It Further Challenge – at (look for the TIF Category). For me, the only drawback of TIF for temari makers is the need for a very extensive range of colored stitching yarn, but the resource is excellent for anyone wanting to work to a deadline, with an imposed color palette and the buzz that comes from others doing the same thing at the same time, a herding dynamic I associate with the very young at the moment, with their spontaneous mass meeting events organised by mobile phone. American quilter Jinny Beyer’s kaleidoscopic works appear to be based on the same operating formula for generating color. All in all, both Beyer and TIF are certainly worth exploring by anyone interested in color analysis – taking the color combinations apart and examining which are complementary, triads, etc. The positioning of the very lightest next to the very darkest is a formula I recall from a blockbuster exhibition of JMW Turner’s paintings; he was very fond of incorporating this into his paintings, almost to the extent of it becoming formulaic.


2 Responses to “Christmas temari balls – holiday decorations”

  1. Rebecca from Perth Says:

    Great set of temari Rod. Did you already have the bases wrapped? I really love the one at the bottom right front… we’ve both made this one a few times but the colours you chose here really pop. Also the woven JD at the back center left is awesome.

    • rodbyatt Says:

      A new way of working – not one-by-one, but wrapping several at a time in one of just three background mari colours, then stitching in just the narrow range of pre-set colours. The wrapping takes as much time as the stitching and the simple designs done before certainly helps free me up!
      The Hime-style one you mention used a different red/green to the others, a Watermelon Red and yellow green which didn’t strictly match the others. But it is certainly a very quick and easy one to make. Re the JD, my next move is to expand on this and do some JTA Level 1 specimens.

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