I've always loved fiber arts and learning obscure historic art mediums. I've mentioned temari's here, here and here. So I figured it time to share some of the history behind them.

After finishing my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I found a book about Temari's and felt energized to experiment. My very first temari is in the photo above on the upper right. It's beat up and threads are coming off but it did survived playtime with both of my babies which is exactly what temari's were historically for...

Temari's started in China and then over to Japan. They were used by children to play games (which reminds me of this post I wrote about the ball as a symbol of childlike creativity). Mothers would also create intricate designs on the temari's and leave them on their children's pillows on New Years. They symbolize joy, happiness, and playful creativity. This site has more history.

The contemporary method to create them is easier than you'd think:

  1. Cut a styrofoam ball in half, hallow it out and put in some bells.
  2. Tie the ball back together with yarn.
  3. Tie batting around the ball.
  4. Then wrap the entire ball in yarn, and then in thread of a similar color.
  5. Mark off the ball. (in the picture above it did this in the gold thread) You'll use straight pins to identify the "north and south poles".
  6. Depending on your design you'll identify and pin other sections on your ball. The "equator" is often marked and used in designs.
  7. Then you embroider the ball using a variety of embroidery stitches and techniques.

Here's a site with pictures of the process.

I enjoy making them because: 

  • they're portable
  • relaxing to make especially if you're making a geometric pattern
  • they have a positive history of being playful and a symbol for joy
  • and I like that they are small and meant to be enjoyed by the viewer in a personal way.

Contemporary art just keeps getting bigger and louder. It feels like it's yelling at me, I like that these are whispering...special presents sending well wishes.