Temari #111-113: on dynamic design

Each of these three temari designs have a dynamic element to their design.

Sometimes a creative block occurs for a particular project and it gets put on hold for a while. Temari #111 is such a project. It was on hold so long that I forgot I had it until I came upon it while sorting and reorganizing sewing supplies.

Only the purple triangles were stitched at the time it was abandoned. They looked like floating picture frames with no purpose. Not very interesting or dynamic.

In the picture above, you can see there are two needles at rest, stuck in the ball while I take the picture. There are two needles because the squares are stitched in alternate light blue and dark blue rounds.

So, I added the square picture frames as connectors to tie the triangles together and to emphasize the spin of the design. I had started thinking of them as picture frames because they looked empty as if they needed to display something to give them meaning.

Both the square and triangle picture frames were filled.

Temari #111 is a C8 division. Think of cube or tetrahedron polyhedrons. The squares are on the faces of a cube or the points of a tetrahedron. The triangles are on the faces of a tetrahedron or the points of a cube.

The 6 blue squares are on the poles. The orange trefoils (I forget the Japanese temari term) are on the center of the triangles with their points at the center of each side of the triangle markings. You can see the black thread marking the ball as I forgot to remove it. The purple triangles are also centered on the marked triangles, but turned so that their points are about halfway between side and point of marked triangle.

Temari #111 is dynamic in that it has bold design elements and a design that creates a strong illusion of motion.

Although temari #112 is a relatively simple design of only two elements, the division is a C10 which is a bit more difficult and time consuming than a C8.

 A C10 is based on the the polyhderon the dodecahedron with its 12 pentagon faces.

Originally, I had planned for the triangles to have multiple rows of stitches, but it became too dominating, so unstitched what little I had done and scaled back to one row.

Without color, Temari #112 would be a very static design. To prevent the allover pattern from becoming completely static, a variegated thread was used for the triangles. The underlying triangles help move the eye from one pentagon flower to another with the use of changing color relationships.

Temari #113 is another C8. It was marked for a C8 with thread matching the ball wrap, then additional division lines were added in light blue to define the faces of a Great rhombicuboctahedron (also known as truncated cuboctahedron), which has octagon, hexagon and square faces.

Double thread lines were wrapped with another thread to create a thicker thread line to define the shapes. The octagon design was stitched first since they were to be the focal points of the temari design. Something seemed to be missing until the little french knots were added to the points of the single thread design element.

Lately, the lattice design that is referred to as asanoha (translating to hemp leaf) in Japanese design, has been showing up in my temari. It is a lovely triaxial embroidery pattern that makes a wonderful filler. I could not resist using it in the hexagon spaces on this temari.

The little squares needed a fill that would visually connect the octagons and hexagons without demanding much attention, adding to the overall design without detracting from the other two elements.

Here again, variegated thread does help break up the otherwise static design. Although the lattice design in the hexagons use almost solid colors, changing scale of design detail helps prevent the overall design from appearing flat.

The threads for all three temari are some of my hand dyed threads.

Dynamic design is something I work towards in most of my artwork. Here, design element placement was used in temari #111 to create an illusion of movement of shapes.  In temari #112 and #113, change in scale played a small role in contributing to a dynamic design by preventing the surface from appearing flat. I know, not possible on a curved surface, but the concept if on a 2D surface would be better illustrated. Also, in temari #112 and #113, variegated color threads were used to create changing relationships between design elements, causing the eye to explore the surface. 

I hope you enjoyed an inside view of some of the thought processes that goes on when I design temari as much as I enjoyed making them.



A Half Dozen New Temari

version #3 of temari tote In my eagerness to share pictures of the glass float temari in my last post, the half dozen temari that preceded it got passed over. Now they will have a chance to be seen too.

After photographing these temari, I noticed that there was a pattern of repeating an idea once before moving on to another idea. There were two pincushion temari, then two temari where points of interest were the intersections of shapes, and then two temari with offset pentagons.

Both of the pincushion temari are simple divisions with most of the stitching on the equator. This is because I prefer to have open space on  the tops and bottoms for pins. Each of the two pincushion temari were made to coordinate with a temari project tote.

For temari #82, some of the thread from version #3 of temari tote bag’s fabric was used as the accent in the center of the band. temari 82

And for temari #83, I experimented with layering the thread in the band a little differently than the previous one. This is the pincushion for temari tote bag version #4.

temari 83

The next two temari are C10 divisions.

The first one, temari #85,  is based on the rhombic tiacontahedron, with the surface divided into 30 diamonds. A little extra blue and dark pink thread is stitched at the intersection where the points of the diamonds meet, creating five pointed stars and triangles.  

temari 85


The second one, temari #84, is based on a dodecahedron with the pentagons outlined in blue green thread. Then the intersections where the points of three pentagons overlap are outlined in peach and orange, creating hexagons at the intersections and stars in the pentagons.

temari 84


The last two temari are also C10 divisions, but the designs are based on the snub dodecahedron. Both of these were time intensive to make.

This temari, # 86, features stars that are needle woven.

temari 86

The second one, temari # 88, is a bolder design that features bands created with stem stitching and chain stitching.

temari 88

All of six of these temari use hand dyed perle cotton threads, except the first pincushion temari.

The Creation of a Chickweed Pollen Grain Temari

Chickweed, Stellaria Media, is common and widespread in both North America and Europe. A chickweed pollen grain has a beautiful geometric structure. Before the grain swells up, it looks like a dodecahedron with concave sides.

temari 76 chickweed pollen grain

How could I resist creating a chickweed pollen grain when it encompasses polyhedron structure (a long time interest), temari making (a relatively new interest, only 2 years), felt (a revived interest) and pollen (bane of my existence). Being able to combine several interests and poke fun of my allergies at the same time was a worthy challenge.

The temari developed quite naturally, with each element of the structure and techniques suggesting themselves. When looking at electron microscope pictures of chickweed pollen grains and reading about the structure of pollen grains, I could see the different parts as different materials or techniques.

The electron microscope images of pollen grains found on internet are rendered in grayscale then colored for visual clarity. Here, for my pollen grain temari, I have used “artistic license” for coloring without any extreme diversion from the natural color of pollen.

A chickweed pollen grain basically resembles a dodecahedron, a twelve regular pentagonal sides, except the sides are concave with a circular hole (pore) in the center of each. This outside skin that takes the shape of a dodecahedron, is called an exine (or exospore). Felt seemed like the obvious solution to creating this outside skin. A lovely warm yellow was hand dyed for this project.

pollen grain temari 7

Scattered across the surface of the exine of a chickweed pollen grain are little spines (spinuli) that could easily be represented by French knots.

pollen grain temari 8

Poking through the holes, or pores of the exine are cells that also look like French knots. These make slightly curved mounds in the circular pores. A temari ball as a base would make  a perfect base to create the slightly raised circular areas of knots and create a solid base on which to add the felt exine with its spines.

pollen grain temari 9

The only structural challenge was to figure out how to pad the cavity between the ball and the outer felt skin so that it would keep its polyhedron shape and not cave in with any pressure against it. I thought of couching down multiple strands of yarn, but realized it would be easier if it was a single large strand, which suggested upholstery cording. Then to smooth over the cord shapes, pieces of felt were stitched on top of them, giving it a nicer contour.

pollen grain temari 10

The following are pictures of the work in progress:

pollen grain temari 1

Temari marked as a C10 with felt pentagons- both ready to be stitched on

pollen grain temari 2

Building the dodecahedron shape with upholstery cording and felt on the ball

pollen grain temari 3

Stitching the felt exine together into two parts

pollen grain temari 4

Stitching French knot on ball using a felt template for circle placement

pollen grain temari 5

The two felt halves partially stitched together and adding a few more knots along opening

pollen grain temari 6

Felt exine on ball being stitched closed. A few more knots were added along the seam

temari 76 chickweed pollen grain

To finish the temari, the felt was tacked down to the ball near the circular openings to create the concavity of the sides

This was one of those projects that was very satisfying to make with it presenting an interesting challenge and then having all the ideas come together to create the intended form with a pleasing result.