Friday, October 28, 2011

the universe conspires

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

Another in the style of no. 33 and no. 35 ("Katydid").

Dark blue thread wrap with embroidery in butter yellow, pumpkin, dark steel blue, and "division" threads in medium steel blue (an S6 division, but these detail threads are where they;d be if it was an S12); a wide dark navy blue obi (20 rows) with "x"s over it at the bands. The quote by Emerson is in the bell box along with twelve brass rings. Circumference: 10.375 inches / 26.4 cm; diameter: 3.3 inches / 8.4 cm. Completed 26 October 2011 (no. 049).

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wrapped and woven experiment

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
— Pema Chödrön

I wanted to try the woven pattern of "Life in Widening Circles" combined with the wrapped band pattern of "All the Details." Because the threads of the wraps must enter/exit the temari somewhere other than the intersections — those need to be free for the weaving — I had to "hide" them in the unwoven areas of the bands. I found it difficult to do this and have it look clean enough. It's like the process of wrapping the obi, but the wider bands and the use of many more colors call more attention to the entering and exiting of the thread. Not satisfied with that aspect of the result, this is one I keep for myself. I'll practice keeping this unavoidable aspect cleaner. In the meantime? Perhaps fewer colors in the row will help.

Thread wrap in sky blue; S4 division; wrap in browns and blues. The quotation by Pema Chödrön is in the bell box with seven brass rings. Circumference: 9.875 inches / 25 cm; diameter: 3.14 inches / 8 cm. Completed 26 October 2011 (no. 048).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

moment after moment

Our way is to see what we are doing, moment after moment.
—Shunryu Suzuki (1904–1971)

This temari was an experiment. In an earlier post I showed a photo of a prepped mari for which I had used two colors of thread wrap. I had wrapped one normally in gray, and then on top of that added a small amount of ecru. When the time came to stitch, I found the ecru thread was not stable at all, and quickly started to slide off, so I removed it.

For this one, I wrapped the two colors (gray and celadon) simultaneously. I use the "power wrap" method and started with three strands of each to cover the yarn. I went down to one strand of each color to finish, and right at the end, did a little extra wrapping of just the celadon strand, having well-secured the end of the gray thread first. It worked really well, and I love the effect. However, given that this was a kiku design, I noticed that the stitches at the poles pulled the threads (as is normal) but in this case pulled more of the "top coat" of celadon than the gray, with the effect of leaving more gray showing around the poles. I like how it looks but a multi-color thread wrap might work better for a wrapped band style design.

Medium silvery gray thread & celadon green wrap; metallic silver for S16 division lines; embroidery in matching gray, matching green, dark dusky steel blue, dusky rose, and periwinkle blue. One large kiku chrysanthemum pattern at the north pole and one small one at the south. The quote by Shunryu Suzuki is in the bell box along with 9 brass rings. Circumference: 11 inches / 27.8 cm; diameter: 3.5 inches / 8.8 cm. Completed 25 October 2011 (no. 047).

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

twelfth month

snow is upon snow . . .
can tonight be the twelfth month's
full and whitest moon?
— Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)

One of my favorite — if simple — designs: two layered four-petal kiku herringbone stars / flowers.

Medium silvery gray thread wrap; metallic silver for S8 division lines; embroidery in dark pewter gray, medium silver gray, and light pearl gray, plus metallic silver for edging (and the obi). The haiku by Matsuo Bashō is in the bell box along with 9 brass rings. Circumference: 10.5 inches / 26.8 cm; diameter: 3.34 inches / 8.5 cm. Completed 23 October 2011 (no. 046).

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Deserve your dream.

 Deserve your dream.
— Octavio Paz (1914–1998)

This temari is a variation of what I first tried with "Our Imagination Flies" (no. 40): a wrapped pattern, alternating two colors of thread, resulting in a very dimensional effect. On this one I added an obi and some additional highlight lines that doubled as "security" lines — it was part play, part experimentation.

Golden yellow orange thread wrap; embroidery in golden yellow, rust red, and medium chocolate brown. The quote by Octavio Paz is in the bell box along with 9 brass rings. Circumference: 9.5 inches / 24.2 cm; diameter: 3 inches / 7.75 cm. Completed 22 October 2011 (no. 045).

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Friday, October 21, 2011

i'm here — the snow falling (rose garden)

I'm here—
the snow falling.
— Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827)

This is my first go at the traditional "rose garden" design. At opposite poles (top / bottom), layered bands of color, each offset from the one underneath, form a blossom effect. The single-thread design around the center was my playing and experimenting, trying to capture the feeling of falling snow.

Medium silvery-brown thread wrap (like driftwood) with embroidery in five shades of brown — from black coffee to coffee with lots of cream — and a sixth shade of pure cream. The haiku by Issa is in the bell box along with 8 brass rings. S8 division. Circumference: 10.625 inches / 27 cm; diameter: 3.38 inches / 8.6 cm. Completed 20 October 2011 (no. 042).

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

woven in plum scent

Great moon
woven in plum scent,
all mine.
— Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827)

Another C10 all-over spiral pattern, like "firefly" and "focus in the brightest." You can see the un-embroidered step of this in part four of the "anatomy of a temari" posts.

Purple thread wrap with embroidery in a hard-to-define plum/dark lavender/purply violet. The haiku by Issa is in the bell box along with 11 brass rings. Circumference: 9.625 inches / 24.5 cm; diameter: 3 inches / 7.75 cm. Completed 17 October 2011 (no. 041).

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

anatomy of a temari: part four


Once the mari is finished, it needs to be "divided," based on the pattern that will be stitched. A temari is traditionally broken down with geographical terms, as if it's a small earth (there's a diagram at the very bottom of the sidebar at the right). The "top" is the north pole, the "bottom" the is south pole, and the line around the middle is the equator. Having these points helps orient the ball while stitching. Simple patterns are often designs that originate from the two poles, and the equator gets a wrapped band called the obi (which is the Japanese word for the sash around a kimono). A perfect example is the very traditional Kiku, or chrysanthemum.

Luckily for me, this isn't a tutorial, so I can generalize. . . .

The thread-wrapped mari is first marked with pins, and then the pins serve as guides for adding division lines in heavier thread, which usually become part of the final design, but may be removed, depending on the pattern.

Since mari size varies, measuring is started by using a paper strip (1/4-inch wide and long enough to wrap around the circumference and then some). To get the basic measurements, numbers and math aren't needed — it's all relational.

The end of the strip is pinned to the ball and this becomes the north pole (using pins with colored tips, one can designate different colors for different pins, e.g. white for the north pole, blue for the south pole, and red for the equator, like the diagram). The paper strip is wrapped around the circumference and trimmed to the length that equals the circumference of the mari.

While still attached at the north pole, the strip is folded in half; wrapping the folded strip will find where the halfway point —the bottom, or the south pole — is located, and another pin is inserted.

The strip is folded in half again and a notch is cut at this fold. This is the 1/4 mark of the strip, and shows where the equator is located (halfway between the north and south poles). The number of pins placed around the equator depends on the final division (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, etc.).

The pins must be spaced equally around the equator. The same paper strip can be used, since it is it the circumference of the temari; it is folded into 4ths, 6ths, 8ths, or whatever your desired measurement is, and notches cut at the folds, and — theoretically — a pin at each notch will space them equidistantly around the equator. Alternatively (and this is what I prefer), you can pin a fabric tape measure around the temari, divide the circumference by the number of pins you want and use the tape measure to place your pins exactly (for example, a 24 cm circumference divided by 8 for a simple 8 division equals a pin placed every 3 cm).


Example one — simple 16 (S16) division, used for the above mentioned chrysanthemum (though these are actually early photographs of no. 43, "the breaking of a wave") — in this temari the division lines are part of the design, so they're made with metallic thread and left on and used as the guidelines for sewing (you can see this if you click on the link for no. 43):

S16: the white pin is the north pole, and the red and black pins are the 16 pins around the equator. Alternating the color helps later when doing the stitching, to keep the two kiku flowers on the correct grid (the pins are left in when starting the stitching).

S16: the blue pin is the south pole. Metallic thread has been used to mark the 16 north to south division lines. In some designs, the equator would also get a division line (crossing the N–S lines) which would be wrapped with an obi; in this case, my design has no obi so I have left this division line off.

There are simple divisions: S4, S6, S8, S10, S12, S16 . . . the number referring to the number of N–S division lines. And there are combination divisions: C6, C8 and C10, which don't have an equator / obi, and have multiple poles.

Example two — combination 10 (C10) division. Used, for example, for an all-over spiral.

This starts out as an S10. Note that in the following two photos, the pins that were on the equator have been moved relative to the poles using a particular formula specific to the C10 (which does require math and a ruler), to get the mari ready for adding the division lines.

S10 showing the north pole pin (white) and the N–S division lines, with the 10 equator pins (red and green) already repositioned for a C10.

Another view of the same, from a different angle, showing both north pole pin and south pole pin (blue).

Using the repositioned equator pins, more lines are wrapped around each to divide it into the "combination" division: each pin will become a pole with 10 division lines radiating outwards. I'm using regular sewing thread, because after I'm done marking it, I'll remove the thread before embroidering.

The additional division lines have been added. Switching out pin colors during the process helps me keep track of my progress and orientation.

A C10 with pins removed. The tacking (the stitches that hold the intersections of threads at each pole in place) are really big and sloppy because I will be removing all this thread before embroidering, and I don't want to lose it!

Once the C10 is complete, "shapes" are picked out on which to work the design. You can see stars, triangles, pentagons, octagons, diamonds. . . . If the division lines are part of the design, they're done in decorative thread and used to guide the stitching. For the all-over spiral, the next steps are to put new pins in at the corners of the right shapes and remove the division lines before beginning stitching since they are not part of the design — as seen here.

Update 18 October: see the finished "plum" all-over spiral.

So, that's a very simplified explanation with just a couple of examples of how to ready the mari for the design. End of anatomy lessons!

For each temari I complete, I try to include a label / tag with the type of division. Over in the sidebar is a list of tags, so you can click on any one and get a list of posts & pictures of temari using that division — for an example, here's the list of S8 temari.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

the breaking of a wave

The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.
— Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)

This temari is another S16 with interwoven kiku stars / flowers. I chose ocean-like colors and for the first time used "Nordic Gold" white metallic pearl for the division lines to go with that theme. Practice, practice, practice the basic stitches of herringbone and kiku herringbone. The lengths of the petals are shorter on one than the other so around the obi it has an asymmetrical effect.

Medium silvery blue thread wrap; S16 division lines in metallic pearl (N–S only, no equator); embroidery in dark silverish blue, light silver gray, with a final row in dark navy blue. The quote by Vladimir Nabokov is in the bell box along with 11 brass rings. Circumference: 11.25 inches / 28.5 cm; diameter: 3.58 inches / 9 cm. Completed 14 October 2011 (no. 043).

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Friday, October 14, 2011

jewels of the night

The stars are the jewels of the night, and perchance surpass anything which day has to show.
— Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

This was an experiment for me, taking the technique of layered kiku flower / star and working out an arrangement, sizes, placement, color, and so on; the nicest surprise was that because I did not start the inner petals of each star / flower at the same distance from the pole, rather started the smaller one farther from the pole, the inner "negative" space of black thread wrap has a really interesting notched 5-petal flower shape of its own, which reminds me a bit of a cherry blossom. I'd like to experiment more with the effects of shaping the negative space on a temari by choosing where I stitch — akin to white space in graphic design, I suppose.

Black thread wrap; S10 division lines in metallic silver; embroidery in four shades of gray (the lightest is pearl gray, not white), two shades of orange, and two shades of purple. The quote by Henry David Thoreau is in the bell box along with 7 brass rings. Circumference: 10.625 inches / 27 cm; diameter: 3.4 inches / 8.6 cm. Completed 12 October 2011 (no. 044).

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

prepped mari

A bowl of six prepped mari — ready for stitching. For each I have a design in mind; and each already has a bell box inside with a quote or haiku. The next step is to map the division lines, which is done with just a paper strip and some pins (though I often use a fabric tape measure for more complicated divisions). Then the division lines are wrapped and tacked in metallic thread (or sometimes cotton perle, or sometimes regular thread that is removed once the pattern is stitched). I'll post about the process soon in the next installment of "anatomy of a temari."

The mari at top right is an experiment; the haiku inside starts "snow is upon snow," and I wanted to find a way to evoke the look of new-fallen snow. I wrapped the mari first with gray thread, and once that was complete, added some wraps of ecru thread — enough to stand out, but not so much that plenty of gray doesn't show through.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

our imagination flies

Our imagination flies — we are its shadow on the earth.
— Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)

This temari employs a wrapped pattern, alternating two colors of thread, resulting in a very dimensional effect. It took me awhile to figure out how to make this one; I'm pleased with the result. In addition to being an author, Nabokov was also a highly regarded lepidopterist, and specialized in study of at least one species of blue butterfly. I chose the colors to evoke what are referred to as "Nabokov's Blues."

Lilac thread wrap (very pale purple); embroidery wrap in periwinkle-violet and dark navy blue. The quote by Vladimir Nabokov is in the bell box along with 9 brass rings. Circumference: 10.25 inches / 26.3 cm; diameter: 3.25 inches / 8.4 cm. Completed 9 October 2011 (no. 040).

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drinking morning tea (chrysanthemum)

drinking morning tea
the monk is peaceful
the chrysanthemum blooms
— Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)

The chrysanthemum is possibly the quintessential traditional Japanese design. Sixteen petals, traditionally white with an inner color at the kiku points (kiku means chrysanthemum, as well as a term for the type of herringbone stitch used at the inner points of the petals). This is my first true chrysanthemum temari. ("A Good Poem" is chrysanthemum-style, but obviously a variant.)

Thread wrap in medium brown; S16 division with metallic copper; embroidery in light tea green, medium tea green, light brown and cream. The haiku above by Matsuo Bashō is in the bell box along with 16 brass rings (for the 16 petals). Circumference: 11 inches / 28 cm; diameter: 3.5 inches / 9 cm. Completed 08 October 2011 (no. 039).

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

scissors hesitate

Before the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate
a moment.
— Yosa Buson (1716–1783)

This temari was inspired by a pattern by Barbara Suess. Three four-petal kiku herringbone stars/flowers at each pole, layered. I wanted this to be very subtle and soft, and chose light colors, with the contrasting gray not too dark. Experimenting, the stars at the south pole are offset from those at the north pole resulting in an asymmetrical design. At the north pole the gray star has varying petal lengths, while at the south pole the thinner cream star has varying petal lengths, which results in a zig-zag appearance at the equator (which has no marking line or obi).

Thread wrap in ecru; S8 division in metallic silver; embroidery in cream and light silver-gray, with highlights and edging in metallic silver. The haiku by Buson is in the bell box, with seven brass rings. Circumference: 10.25 inches / 26 cm; diameter: 3.25 inches / 8.27 cm. Completed 5 October 2011 (no. 038).

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