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Monday, July 7, 2008

Summons To Jury Duty Leads Northeast Tacoma Artist To Budding Career As Author

Above: A thread-wrapped core provides the base for the design of a Japanese temari ball which will be wrapped by Northeast Tacoma artist Kathleen Hewitt. All photos copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

"One of the great joys in life is creativity. Information goes in, gets shuffled about and comes out in new and interesting ways."- Peter McWilliams.

In the last year I have had the pleasure of becoming more familiar with one of my neighbors, Temari artist Kathleen M. Hewitt, who hails from Northeast Tacoma a few miles from Federal Way and just across the King-Pierce county line.

It is hard to believe that until a decade ago, Hewitt had absolutely no prior exposure, interest or background in most anything having to do with Asian culture. Certainly not in the area of the traditional native Japanese crafts of which she has since built a strong local foundation.

Firthermore, Hewitt is scheduled to make a national debut as co-author of the forthcoming fully illustrated book Japanese Kimekomi - Fast, Fun and Fabulous Fabric Handballs (Breckling Press, August 2008.)

Hewitt, who teamed with North Carolina resident and nationally known Temari artist and author Barbara B. Suess on the new reference, which introduces kimekomi (an equally related art and tradition) to new audiences of American crafters.

However, it is her growing reputation and expertise as a teacher of Temari locally at Tacoma's Krazy Kat Fiberhaus and Lakewood's Shibori Dragon which may be of immediate interest as her introduction to the art came about totally and unexpectedly by accident!

Left: Kathleen M. Hewitt

If Hewitt had not received and responded to courthouse summons to participate in a jury pool in Pierce County about nine years ago, there would be no reason to be writing this blog about her soon-to-be launched career as an author and the world of temari might have never had the good fortune to hear of Hewitt's name.

And it was apparently Hewitt's destiny to be sitting across the room from a fellow county resident and prospective juror who had brought a small craft project into the jury waiting room along with her to keep hands busy and mind occupied.

Hewitt's curiosity built as the day went by about the craft project that was taking shape in the capable hands of the woman across the room. Finally, Hewitt recalls that she simply could not stand it anymore. She rose from her seat, put aside the hefty novel she had brought to ease the wait and crossed space between herself and the other juror to inquire as to just what the juror was making.
Right: The core of a temari ball starts with a thin nylon sock shell stuffed with rice hulls.

These few steps began Hewitt's journey into what was up until that day a totally alien and unfamiliar area of the art and craft universe. In recent years, Hewitt's desire to learn more about Temari include becoming more familiar with the land and culture from whence the art sprung including the possibilities of a trip to Japan some day in the future.

A few of Hewitt's own temari balls are featured here in this blog. Her interest in temari has taken her to study with teachers at workshops and conferences around the nation. Hewitt's own website serves as a good introduction for those who may be interested in taking a look at the art of making temari balls.

In addition to the aforementioned book, the website of co-author Barbara Seuss lists among Hewitt's other talents as a designer and inventor crediting her with the design of several lovely pieces of temari ball themed jewelry as well what is described as a retractable holder for identification badges, scissors, etc. quite popular with crafters by the catchy name of a black zinger!

Below: A sampling of some of the hundreds of temari balls Hewitt has created over the span of almost a decade.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Great post, Mizu! This is an art form with which I am totally unfamiliar, but how cool. Thank you for sharing this artist and craft with the Neighborhood!

JosephMcG said...

Beautiful post... wonderful pictures... fascinating form of art...

thank you, Mizu

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

One of your very, very best! Fascinating to read about and mind-boggling to even begin to imagine creating such diversely beautiful works of art. Excellent!

Lorraine Hart said...

How exquisite! Now there's someone in their right mind!

M. Sugimura said...


When I met her she told me that she was making temari balls of which I had a passing familiarity. I believe my (Japanese) mother-in-law once made one during the time she lived with us.

However, quite possibly due to the fact I've had arts and crafts interests of my own since I was a child, for self-preservation I've had to separate the universe into those forms of which I'm really excited about and want to do immediately if not sooner from those I admire aesthetically but can't see myself getting into.

Temari is one of the latter. So it wasn't until I asked Kathy to tell me more details of how she got hooked on the art and why she is so fascinated with the possibilities it presents that I came to give it a better look.

While preparing to write this piece I came to realize that while the creative demands and mindset that go along with my planning and executing a well-made temari ball are seldom if not non-existent pathways in the universe of the constantly changing channels in my brain, the curiosity and desire to make something out of it are not.

Asking her to tell her story is one of the best things I've done. so I especially appreciate the commentary from all of you!

Kim Thompson said...

This is so, so, so COOL! BEAUTIFUL. This post is amazing--the TNT needs to put this is Soundlife--FAST!!!!