Thursday, July 30, 2015

SAORI Worcester

Worcester, Massachusetts was my goal today and all things Saori.  I arrived at Mihoko Wakabayashi's Saori Worcester a little before the agreed 10am in time for a couple hours session of weaving.  Not having a Saori loom myself, I looked forward to having time at the loom.  I learned so much from Mihoko and her gentle way of teaching.  
The Saori looms in Mihoko's studio
The most basic was the correct way to wind a pirn for the shuttle.  I was doing it Incorrectly filling areas and moving slowly along the pirn.  OH no... The best way is to wrap the yarn 7 or 8 times around crisscrossing to get started without tying a knot and then placing it on the bobbin winder with the yarn coming over towards you as you wind.  Then most importantly moving you hand quickly back and forth along the length of the pirn to crisscross the yarn not build it up. Such an easy fix and one I'd never known!
Mihoko and one of her students Glenn

technique for 3 clasped weft weaving
After chosing several cones of thin boucl√©'s in violets, turquoise, green and gold I picked a sample of shadow weave from her pile of examples to learn.  Mihoko quickly explained how you weave with two cones of yarn alternately on one side of the loom on the floor picked up by the shuttle thrown across the web.  Her trick is to catch the shuttle with your hand under the color you want to pull across.  Pull one color further than the other to get an interesting effect.  You can use high contrasting yarns like the violet and gold I chose or more subtle colors like green and turquoise.

I shared some of my woven pieces.  She was especially intrigued by the piece I had woven Saori style on the Blazing Shuttles warp.  She took photos of it to show one of her students Kris Nelson who space dyes her own warps.  Kris will be teaching a workshop for Mihoko's students soon.  Mihoko and her apprentice Annie were also every interested in our fiber guilds Oatland Mighty Oak fiber installation in Savannah.  So I shared some photos I had of it on my iPad.  It was great to be able to share experiences with Mihoko.

The two hour session (only $20 including materials as it was my first time) went so quickly!  After cutting my sample off the loom we were ready to go to lunch. The Saori way of ending a weaving is so easy.  Kenjo Jo the inventer of the loom designed a long dowel with a groove cut the length of it.  The dowel is placed under the warp near the beater leaving plenty of warp yarn for fringe and so it doesn't unravel.  A very thin long stick is pushed into the groove.  And the warp is turned around the dowel and stick a few times and placed on the tray until the whole piece can be tied easily to start the next weaving.  Genius!


Mihoko arranged for us to have a Mediterranean lunch with two of her longtime students and friends Susan Gardner and Alice Webb (the moderator of the Facebook Saori Weaving group.  What fun it was to be able to relax and discuss Saori with kindred spirits.  Susan is an inner city 4th grade teacher and Alice is a landscape architect in their other lives.

Mihoko showed me where her storefront studio had been and explained that she had to move because of how wonderful yet distracting it was to have drop in visitors all day every day.  Her current studio is in a very urban neighborhood of two story clapboard homes.  She has a very long one story nondescript building down the driveway.  It's not beautiful and there isn't even a sign to say what magic lies beyond the door, but once you step inside you can feel the energy.
We wound our way past downtown to the other side of Worcester where the Sprinkler Gallery was housed in a former factory building that now is home to several small artist studios.  The gallery is on the 2nd floor.  Once we turned the corner my eyes lit up to see a light filled gallery brimming with colorful textured Saori clothing, wall hangings, banners and more!  It must fill Mihoko's heart with such joy to see the work of her students so beautifully displayed.  The high factory windows let light stream in and the exceptionally tall walls were draped with cascades of woven fabric banners.

Mihoko did a beautiful job curating the show, finding the perfect way to display each piece. Novice beginner weaving was intermingled with more seasoned expert weavings and even some of her own work.

I was particularly drawn to the rainbow banner with loopy selvedges that Mihoko wove displayed on one corner with one woven in a more controlled way by her student Glenn, an older man who comes a couple times a week to weave in her studio.  There were several beautiful pieces by David who is dealing with a loss of short term memory due to head injury and is able to create wonderful fabric that Mihoko helps him turn into garments.  The women we had lunch with also had standout pieces... I loved Susan's open weave wall hanging and was pleased to see a SOLD sign on it though it was grossly undervalued at only $40... It was about 2' wide by 6' long!  

Susan Gardner's weaving
detail of Susan Gardner's weaving
Alice had a very textured golden hanging with trinkets attached that was quite interesting.  
woven wall hanging by Alice Webb
detail of weaving by Alice Webb
 The work of space dyer Kris Nelson was spectacular.  it was unlike other Saori weavings as it wasn't textured.  There were several long narrow wall hangings with bold blocks of color woven with a single colored yarn.  
Space dyed banners by Kris Nelson

Mihoko's top woven with elastic yarns was intriguing and masterfully constructed to create lots of visual interest utilizing the elasticity to create shaping and a folded collar.  Her jacket in large bold blocks of red and black seemed the perfect coat for the NE winters and though more traditional in design it certainly had the elements of Saori!  Guarded by a long haired calico cat, each woven Saori pieces glows and was obviously woven through eyes that shine.  It was a magical space and I was so happy I was able to see it for myself!

 Article about Loom in Essence in Worcesters Telegram.
Here's another article about the show. 

images of Mihoko's elastic woven tunic
weavings by Glenn (banner) & David (top)
detail of weaving by Susan Gardner
woven Saori dress by Leslie Sudock of Ready to Hand Saori studio, Philadelphia
detail of Leslie Sudock's dress
Winter jacket by Mihoko
Thank you Mihoko for sharing your day with me.  I have learned so much and your inspiration has touched my soul!

Instead of starting for home after all of this stimulation I turned toward Boston to go to Framingham to see the work of an old friend, Stacey Piwinski.  More about this in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to have you here in Worcester. I hope you have now new journey of your own SAORI after gotten inspired.
    Few correction of names of people ...The old man who have been weaving with me for ten years is Frank Cole and the lady who dyes her warp is Janet Nelson.