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Temari: Large, Medium and Unusually Small

August 27, 2012

Pictured here is a fairly grand group of old temari, a temari being hand-wound ball made from leftover threads which was made as a gift for a child.  By a “grand group” I mean that these old temari are getting harder and harder to find, and seeing so many older ones of such good quality and condition together at once–from grapefruit-sized to grape-sized–is a real treat.  For me, at least.Of course the apple on the top photo is there for scale, otherwise you’d have no idea that the two temari pictured above, are so large.  The larger of the two measures 5″ or 12.5 cm  in diameter.The three temari pictured above are roughly 3″ or 7.5 cm in diameter; the temari on the right is made of a cotton core and blue and red yarns of silk floss.  This one also has a bit of a rattling sound, which is due to rice grains placed in the center of the ball.  This rattle feature was, of course, meant to entertain the child who was gifted this magical thing.  The other two temari are made entirely of cotton and they don’t rattle.These temari, above, are tiny, and each group is stitched together to form a cluster.  Each of the temari on the cluster on the lower right measures 3/4″ or 1.75 cm in diameter.

I think these temari date to the 1920s, 30s or thereabouts.  Remarkably, they are in excellent condition, and with the exception of a bit of patina from age, all the threads are intact and there is no staining or discoloration.

Really delightful.  And a real find.

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Mottainai The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan

November 6, 2011

The exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden, Mottainai, The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan opened on 4 November.  Here are some installation shots.
I’m exhibiting with my friend, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto.   Kei and I decided that I would show indigo dyed cotton boro pieces and she would show bast fiber and paper pieces.  The items I have contributed to the show can be seen below.Above and below is a large, woven cotton boro mosquito netting or kaya.

Above and below are sashiko stitched pieces.  Centrally place above is a large, sashiko stitched kotatugake.  To the left and right are garments from Yamagata prefecture.Stitched aprons and zokin can be seen above.

Above and below are sakiori garments.

Above is pictured a boro yogi or sleeping kimono, while below you can see noragi or work coats.Below is a fantastic boro futonji or futon cover.This piece, below, a shinafu or linden fiber tsunobukuro or horn bag is filled with balls of shredded indigo dyed cotton yarn and twisted paper yarn.   Kei brought this to the show to act as a transition between her bast fiber textiles and my indigo dyed cotton ones.  It’s an amazing object.  Kei’s other textiles can be seen in the images below.

Above and below are some woven paper garments.  On the photo, above, situated on the right is an okuso zakkuri or a coat made of woven hemp waste.  Below, seen in the middle, is a fujifu or woven wisteria garment and a shinafu or linden fiber garment to its left.

Below are two elm fiber garments: to the right is a traditional Ainu attush, to the left is an unusual dochugi or traveling coat, made from ohyo or elm fiber.  Since this dochugi is made from traditional Ainu cloth, we can assume that the cloth was traded with the Ainu by a merchant from Honsu island.

A marvelous, resist dyed ramie kazuki from Yamagata prefecture can be seen above and below.  A kazuki is a kimono-shaped veil which was worn on the head by upper class women.Below are repurposed paper items. A splendid bashofu or banana fiber kimono from Okinawa can be seen below.All of the pieces are for sale through the Portland Japanese Garden.  If any are interesting to you, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Garden.

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Three Old Temari

October 15, 2011

Temari, literally “hand ball,” are gifts made for children.  Temari were originally made from left over yarn or string, both cotton and silk floss were used.A ball was created from wound threads.  Sometimes a written wish for the child was placed at the center of the ball, or other times some rice grains or a bell were the center of the ball, placed there to create a rattling or jingling noise, depending.  The pink and white ball shown here has a rattle center.These lovely old temari date to the 19th century.  The largest is the size of a grapefruit.


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A Rajasthani Cloth Covered Vessel, a Bengali Kantha and Japanese Temari

July 17, 2011

I think this group looks good: a Bengali kantha is the backdrop to a large, Rajasthani cloth-covered appliqued lidded vessel and a group of five Japanese temari. The kantha is a lovely one: when viewed in its entirety is shows a tree of life surrounded by stylized, fanciful lotus and bird forms, as can be seen on the bottom of the photo, above.This vessel is really charming.  It measures about 10″/ 25.5 cm in diameter and it is made of a formed reed interior that has been covered in applique cotton.  Really delightful.The five colorful balls surrounding the large pot are Japanese temari.  Temari are children’s toys that were originally made from leftover threads which were wound into a ball whose exterior was adorned by a complex, geometric decoration.  These temari are probably from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth century.

It’s beautiful how harmonious these three seemingly disparate elements are.  And I think they’re a really pleasant group to view in summer.

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Three Fine, Vintage Temari in Sunlight

September 27, 2009

I’ve posted on temari before, but I was compelled to show this trio, which I think is handsome—and which looks so good catching strong, warm sunlight.

Temari as they were originally conceived were balls wound from leftover threads; they were meant to be enchanting amusements for children, and very often the heart of the ball would contain a small note of auspicious content for the child, or sometimes a little bell would be at the center of the ball.


Today temari have evolved into a less homey production than in the early days, and now many hobbyists and artisans around the world enjoy making temari, some of them showcasing designs that are quite accomplished, complex, flashy and non-traditional.


These temari with their very bold, geometric designs probably date to the mid-twentieth century or slightly earlier, and they are made of cotton threads.  And they’re beautiful.

I’ll be offering them on my website later this year, but do inquire if you are interested.

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See You After Christmas

December 23, 2008

…but in the meantime, enjoy a tower of Darumas and one of the biggest temari you’ll ever see: it’s 9″ in diameter!  Enjoy Christmas and Hannukah, and see you soon…

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Antique Temari

September 18, 2008

Temari are decorative balls of  wound and stitched threads.  In olden times in Japan temari were created from leftover threads and were intended to give to children: in some cases within the core of a temari would be a wish for the child in the form of a crumpled note, or a bell–the bell lending a playful aspect to this wondrous thing which was intended to amuse a child.  These particular ones, I think, are beautiful for their faded colors and abstract geometric patterns.

And today, our “for sale” website, Sri, is updated with new products, so have a look!

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