LOOK | A photo essay on the Japanese art of Temari

Posted in More Stories, Spotlight, Visual Art

Dec. 15, 2013

Eager crafters were treated to the “Intricate Art of Temari” in a workshop at Inspired Arts Gallery and Gifts in Freeland recently.  Artist Kathy Hewitt welcomed the group, who were keen to watch her demonstrate how to create a Japanese Temari ball, a folk art form that originated in China and was introduced to Japan about 600 years ago.

Hewitt has been creating the colorful spheres for 15 years, and enjoys teaching others how to do it. Sue Averett, co-owner and artist at Inspired Arts, followed the process with her camera.


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Kathy Hewitt, the temari master, goes to work creating a temari ball. / All photos by Sue Averett


“Temari” is the word for “handball” in Japanese. Mothers created these toys for children during war time in Japan, which they fashioned out of the fabric from old kimonos.

Hewitt taught herself how to create a Temari ball and has visited Japan to see countless numbers of intricate designs that have originated there. She taught herself so well, that some of Hewitt’s original designs have been published in Japanese books about Temari.

The process begins by inserting a tiny box containing a bell or a few beach pebbles into the center of a ball of yarn.

She covers that with old nylon stockings, shaping it into a sphere. It’s then wrapped with layers of regular thread, which becomes the background color for the design.


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Hewitt showed how to use a strip of paper to mark off the various sections that the ball will contain, and then how to use a long needle and embroidery thread to sew the lines for the sections onto the ball.


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From that point, many designs can be created using any number of colors and patterns.


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A student at the workshop gets into a blue and green pattern. Hewlitt said she can create a Temari ball in a single day, but a necessary skill for learning the process is patience.


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This red, blue and black Temari ball is given a delicate strain of metallic thread against its bolder colors.

Anyone can stop by by Inspired Arts at 1689 Main St. in Freeland to see a collection of Hewitt’s beautiful, colorful Temari balls, which are available for sale.

“We are honored to have a beautiful selection of Temari on hand,” Averett said.

Hewitt will teach another Temari class on Saturday, Feb. 1 at WICEC in the old Bayview School in Langley. For more info or to register, call 360-221-5020 or visit the website.

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