Temari – C10 multifaced or multifaceted

December 28, 2013

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE2013 has seen me experiment with teaching temari ball stitching and, after working in isolation for five years, finally meeting other temari stitchers face-to-face.

Each year, in that period of searing midsummer heat between Christmas and New Year, I take stock of things. This year, I’m wondering in particular about the cycle of abuse and sycophancy inherent in social media where most creative people are publicizing their creative efforts these days. It disappoints me that individual people, through Facebook and Twitter,  are turning themselves into commercial brands and that personal behavior is more and more closely mimicking that of large corporations.

While issues about the nature of social intercourse, human communication and the globalization of creative industries swarm around me (swallowing up traditional craft in the process, not to mention determining the trajectory of the visual arts), I’m quietly reassessing the challenges involved in getting my head around the Complex 10 multifaced or multi-faceted temari.

Here are three I’ve done in the past and three I’m currently working on.

I’m completely at home with the relatively simple C10 typified by the yellow one lower right; I’ve made enough of these to stitch this in my sleep. Which is at the core of temari stitching: you keep beavering away until something complex becomes “natural”. The blue one upper right was done during an online temari workshop given by Barb Suess a long tme ago. Finished off just this week was the dark blue one upper left (35cm circumference): the surface design came about through an organic, hit-and-miss process of adding different elements at random. I’ve since named this “Lantana” because its color scheme resembles that of a local endemic weed. I’ll post about it separately.

Problem #1: getting confused

The first main problem in laying down the division lines of a multifaced C10 is getting lost both within each pentagon and between one and pentagon and the next. Confusion arises from the sheer web of thin threads going every which way! I’ve learned to retain keeper pins at the points of each hexagon. It also helps to try and lay down the division lines around the entire ball in as short a time as possible because it’s very easy to inadvertently adopt an unwanted variation in the geometry. If the division lines have to be stitched over a long period of time (obviously the case with larger and larger balls), careful notetaking and documenting the process become more and more essential. I’ve taken to sequential step-by-step digital photographs so I can remember what I was doing days and weeks in the past.

Problem #2: tacking

The second problem in laying down division lines is the need to tack-as-you-go.  Exactly where to tack creates difficulties because there are differences between “perfect” and “imperfect” hexagons and pentagons: that is, they can look “exact” or “tight” or they can look “loose”, following more the curved arc of the ball itself.

Problem #3: traditional and non-traditional multiface geometry

The Japanese, over hundreds and thousands of years of experimenting, have hit on a strict geometrical progression which maximises the geometric potential, thus underpinning the beauty of the finished result. The various temari textbooks and instructional material often indicate where the lines go, but not how the cumulative, sequential stitching process. Floundering with the process, I’ve hit on non-traditional variations, outside the cultural norm of 32, 42, 92, 122, etc. faces; the problem with that is the effort required to come up with an appropriate surface design stitching.

In terms of actual progress being made with what is otherwise a hit-and-miss process, see the red ball lower left with its bronze 2/20 tencel division lines, done a long time ago. I disliked the combination of dark red and bronze and so lost interest. My problem is not the geometry (the division lines are substantially correct, even though they haven’t been tacked into position) but the color scheme. My provisional surface design was done in blue and red 2/20 tencel weaving thread.

My next effort was the black ball in the center. I thought I was stitching a 92-face ball, but it is in fact a 122-face ball. Some things don’t become obvious till you go to the additional trouble of stitching a surface pattern (here three rows of interlocking stitches, done in a light around a middle dark color, done here in pearl cotton 8).  I won’t progress with this particular ball but will retain it as a reference model of a 122-face. One particular problem is how to effectively link each of the 12 pentagons given this particular interlocked pattern. You’ll notice each pentagon can only be linked to the next by either an outline of the entire pentagon (militating against a gentle overall design) or by a more subtle series of diamond shapes (creating a contrast between pentagons/hexagons and diamonds).

My last outcome for the moment is the small black temari, lower center.  I found a very difficult design for a large 40cm ball in a Japanese temari book – Thimble Ring and Flower Temari (9784837703082) page 10 ball 3 – , but because it was too ambitious I decided to simplify the basic surface design as much as possible and working on a much smaller scale. By getting the pentagon surface design correct on the smallest numbers of faces possible on a C10, I now feel confident to upgrade to more faces/facets to include both the pentagon and hexagon versions of the surface design. You’ll notice the colors (here blue, red and purple) and the initial white thread are renzoku, or continuous stitching around a central point. I’m no great fan of white next to a color (I prefer three rows of stitching to two) because the white fades the color: red becomes pink; I’m no great fan of the deep gullies of blank black between each of the designs. While a black background can reinforce bright colors, it can often become too “strong” in its overall impact and lack subtlety, especially where the thread is matt and not shiny.

I’ll continue with my hit-and-miss approach: hit-and-miss in terms of tacking division lines the ‘right’ way, in terms of adopting an acceptable color scheme and in terms of size and type of thread. It’s a complicated balance to get right!

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