Temari ball ‘flat’ silk
July 23, 2011
During more than a week of constant rain (while the US swelters by contrast) I retreat into my mid-winter fantasy world of embroidery. I put blind faith in humans helping each other, as in the deep sea divers off the coast of Yamada who declare “Welcome home!” when they discover the body of a fellow countryman washed out to sea months after the Japanese tsunami in March. I’ve been taking a bit too much to heart lately the shocking tactics in recent weeks of public figures wielding power in ways which distinctly contradict compassion, hope and charity. And I’m not talking about the Murdochs. I’ve been outraged by Loree Rudd, by the political blackmail involved in banning ethics classes in NSW schools, by the mooted introduction of gun classes in primary schools, by Joe de Bruyn’s atrocious stand on human rights among members of his trade union. I guess there’s a lot of people who pine for the days of yore of a Church Militant and Christians brandishing weapons as a solution to everything.
Back to the absorbing mysteries of needle, thread, geometry and colour instead!
C6, 28cm circumference, perle cotton #5; jiwari in ‘singles’ of DMC metallic gold.
The mari is in a dark but bright forest green and I followed the colour scheme of the model in Fun with Temari by Toshiko Ozaki (colour photos page 16, pattern page 86). Part of the attraction was the fact that Ozaki-sensei had illustrations of three balls of the same design in different colours, which is an unusual approach for Japanese temari books. Often it’s just one illustrated example of the ball. I’m interested in different colourways (an American term I’ve picked up from kumihimo braiders) and today’s C6 followed on naturally from yesterday’s.
Steps 1 & 3 – bands and obi
In balls 1 and 3 of the colour photo on page 16, I noted the bands surrounding the six-petalled ‘flower’ at the poles was in very muted versions of the three primaries: red/yellow/blue become the palest pink/lemon/eggshell blue. More than that there is something approaching ungen, a gradual darkening of the colour to the outside, but the “curve” of the ungen seems quite “steep”. Ozaki calls for 5 stitched rows in the bands on a 30cm ball; I pushed the envelope a bit by doing five rounds in the lightest hue plus a final one in one substantially darker. In stitching the bands, there is the matter of where to bury the threads to contend with, especially since the obi is a mere 10 rounds wide. I guess I relied on past experience with balls heavy with the wrapped or kagari ‘stitch’ to allow me not to bunch up too many threads at the cross-over points. Wrapping the obi “heavy” to squash them down somewhat seems to help as well. I stuck with a flower 3cm out along each of the petal spokes, using pins to maintain the lengths, even though my mari was a bit smaller. Normally one works the obi last, but since it had no connection with the ‘flower’ I laid down 10 rounds of a reddy-orange colour, used again in the centre of the flower, just to balance its use in the obi.
Step 2 – flower
When it comes to the ‘flower’ the three primary colours are again used, only the red becomes a russet/brick colour, the blue a peacock blue and there are washed-0ut yellows and greens to match. So they are intermediate secondaries rather than bright primary colours. The three balls appear to have been done in what looks like a very flat, straw-like silk. I’ve seen this sort of silk in weaving fibre but I stuck with pearl cotton #5 on mine. Apart from fluffing the colours in the centre of the ‘flower’, I stuck more or less to the colours of the model. It was a chance to use up some of the very light colours I’ve got as opposed to the hard-edge bright tones which come up again and again in temari.
Perhaps a key for anyone starting out in the somewhat unusual texture of the flower is laying in a two-round hexagon to start things off. I used normal DMC metallic gold (i.e. straight from the skein, not divided in two as I do with jiwari marking thread). It will almost be completely covered by the coloured threads but provides a very good ‘base’ for constructing the two colour triangles around the pole. Very difficult otherwise! The flower seems to stitch proud of the surface alarmingly when you start off, but worry not! The pattern specifies 11, 9 and 10 rounds for each of the interwoven triangles; my mari was 2cm smaller so I did mine by eye.
Colour-wise, this temari ball focuses on the three primaries, but in the lightest of hues. You’ve got a yellow flower on a green vegetation background, with some balancing of ‘reds’ between the poles and the obi. Introducing some greens into the outer edging of the flower petals mediatingd with the dark green background. A similar process seems to be operating with the other two models as well.