Sunday, May 3, 2015

Guatemalan temari, the sequel

    Last year I wrote about working with two Guatemalan women, Berta Mendoza and her daughter Sofia in Panajachel, who I commissioned to embroider some temari for me. A year later, I was back. This time Berta embroidered two more balls for me. She felt—and I agreed—that her attempts this year were even more successful because she was more used to embroidering on a ball. If only I were such a quick learner, but the fact is that Berta has a lot more experience embroidering. Her balls this year featured birds like last year but she also used flowers.

Berta liked that I had put a simple four division on the ball with gold thread. It helped her visualize where on the ball to put her designs.

A second ball was on a lovely maroon background. I removed some of my marking thread when Berta was done because I preferred it when a line didn't go through a bird. (This ball had a simple four with equator and I removed some of the equator.) Look as this wonderful hummingbird. Usually Berta invents her own species of birds.

Again this year I spent a lot of time in Berta's store watching her stitch and sharing lots of laughs. It was very interesting to watch her select colors. It's a lot like my own technique: just holding up new colors next to the ball to choose the next color to use. I usually enjoy not having all my colors chosen before I do a project.

Here's another side of the same ball. with a very lively bird. I want to go to the universe where I can see Berta's birds.
I was so grateful to be able to spend time with my Guatemalan friends and cherish the balls they embroidered for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

String souvenirs

I've always found textiles to be excellent souvenirs. They are relatively light, non-breakable, and fit into the nooks and crannies of one's luggage. On a recent trip to Guatemala I took the concept a bit farther and acquired a lot of thread. We visited a village on Lake Atitlán called San Juan de la Laguna, known for handweaving and other crafts. Interestingly, this village has a lot of cooperatives: painters, weavers, even the drivers of the small three wheeled taxis called tuk tuks.
At the cooperative Corazon del Lago, they weave lovely shawls like the one above on backstrap looms with cotton thread they dye themselves. As soon as I saw the example skeins of naturally dyed threads, I wanted not only shawls but also thread to play with myself. Here's the display of dye stuffs and the resulting colors. This kind of dyeing has a long tradition in Guatemala but is in the process of being revived. I found the brilliance of the colors they could achieve really stunning.
The thread comes from India and has a lovely sheen. People in this area traditionally grew cotton but they can't produce enough for the amount of weaving they do now.
   I bought the thread with the idea of using it on temari balls. I've used some already but it's very fine, which limits its use. Now I'm looking into the possibility of having them custom dye some thicker thread which I might then market in a very small scale way. It's looking like a project that will be slow to come to pass but one that has me feeling very excited about sharing these beautiful colors.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Let the chrysanthemums bloom!

  One of the most traditional of temari stitches is the kiku or chrysanthemum stitch. It's easy stitch to learn. Some stitches look easy to the uninitiated but turn out to be difficult because they need to be done very neatly to look good. The kiku stitch is quite forgiving but also allows for much experimentation for more advanced stitchers. Recently I have stitched several temari with this stitch.
   This blue ball uses a very standard kiku stitch on a simple 8 division.
I experimented with a more elaborate obi around the equator than I usually use.
Another temari features a design called Red Dahlia from Barbara Suess's book Temari Techniques. It uses a variation called the ribbed kiku herringbone. For once I picked colors similar to the ones that Barbara used.
I found it really interesting to see how different the two hemispheres look even though there are only slight changes in the colors I used in the last few rows.
On a larger ball (35 cm. circumference) I stitched a ball with a kiku of a very interesting shape. This design, Unfolding Kiku, is from Barbara Suess's Etsy store and sold as an instant download.
As usual, Barb's instructions are very clear. Being in a mood for purple, I used very different colors that she did.
  The final ball of this series was a stitch-along with the Yahoo Temari Challenge group.
This is a wonderful group to belong to if you stitch temari. Even when a stitch-along is finished, you can find the instructions in the file section.
   With all the variations one can do with kiku, I'm sure there are many more chrysanthemums in my future.