Worcester is the snowiest city in the US now. There are huge mounts of snow at every corner of streets and drive way entrances. We had three huge snow storms in two weeks then one after another while the temperature has been single digit to 20F. My back room is colder than a refrigerator. It’s great to think about walking narrow streets in Japan in May which is a blooming season.
I remember that my dad used to say that he wanted to be a tour guide in Japan for visitors from other countries once he retired. Every day he was used to listen to the radio program of English conversation lessons with me when I was in a middle school. Unfortunately he passed away before he realized his dream, however I feel like he has been with me while I guided the tour for all these years. In 80’s my dad had organized a small tour group of family (my mom, her sisters and their familymembers) to Paris. It was very rare for a Japanese business man to take such a long day off but he did. He used to tell us a story with gesture how he was terrified to had realized that he forgot to re-confirm the flight back home. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and I enjoys guiding tours and I did had those moments on my tour in the past, too. I can write a book about those moments some day.(lol)
This year’s tour is going to be my 6th Japan tour. Each one is very different and memorable to me. Although the details of the itinerary has been made by tour members, I have few places I always go (or at least tried to go) on my tour.
One is Flora House, Yufuin, Oita prefecture. It is a family business B&B in Kyusyu island in south. You can see this Mt. Yufu from a big bath house through a window while soaking your body in a smooth warm tub.
Another one is Studio Yuu, Himeji, Hyogo prefecture. It is a SAORI studio and a workshop for young women with developmental problems. This was a time when each weavers showed us their work in progress at the studio.
Another one is Mom’s Hand, Kakogawa, Hyogo prefecture. It is a guest house of Mr.& Mrs. Fukushima. They grow many flowers and vegetables all around their house and feed us with them from their garden.
I am looking forward to the new adventure in May this year. The deadline of the deposit is Feb. 22nd. If you would like to jump in, you are welcome to do so.
It’s been more than three months since the last time I updated the blog. I feel terrible not to update this periodically. I love writing from my childhood and I keep writing journals even though I have some long period that I had not written in the past. Well, I usually write in my native language which is Japanese. So it is challenging for me to write a blog in English. I appreciate that people read this blog looks like three grader’s composition. However, I believe that there are people out there who are curious about my studio and my work. Improving English skill is one of many things that I would like to do. I know I can use this opportunity to practice it so I decide to write once in two weeks now on no matter what. It’s never too late to have New Year resolution, right? I will write this blog as our studio record/ my weaving project record.
One month has passed in 2015 and I have already been blessed in so many ways despite a big life change. My older son Asa enjoys his college life in Hampshire, Amherst, MA. Now my younger son Nori flew to Japan on Jan. 6th planning to stay there for a half year. He enrolled to Tokyo Shure, an alternative school in Tokyo where I used to work before the marriage.
I was lucky that I didn’t have to worry about Empty Nest Syndrome because I had a big show opening on Jan. 15th “Harmony/?” at Worcester Center for Crafts. There are 6 tapestries and 6 wearable items in the show along with Sumiyo’s painting and ceramics and Tomo’s glass work. Thanks to many supporters, the opening reception went wonderfully. It was a huge turn out. Sumiyo, Tomo and I were overwhelmed by it. The show runs through Feb. 28th. If you have not seen it, please come to visit. I really appreciate your sincere feedback.
In 2015 I started a new program called “the Study Group” for people who have a loom at home and want to work on same assignments together. This is my long year dream. It is a 6 months program for one cycle. In this way we all can study and experiences of 6 assignments (1 assignment for a month) together. Some members have been our studio members for more than 6 years, some have been more than 4 years and some are relatively new. It doesn’t matter. The first assignment was weaving with one color. Oh, what a interesting fact that no one had similar interpretation. Everyone had a story for the work or two. We will show our results at our studio exhibition in July. The most important part of this group is having each other who support everyone’s own journey and learning process.
At last, I finally put the curtains at windows of the studio. My previous intern Alana helped weaving materials two years ago and Annie recently sewn strips. Now the studio looks more cozy. Outside of the window is a huge snow storm now…Stay warm and safe.
Since I was a member of the conference committee and planned this with the host Denise Prince (HanDen Studio) and Sakaiseikisangyo Co. (Kenzo and Akiko Jo), I was a bit nervous before. I don’t have any pictures of the fashion show at the opening night. I was busy doing MC and organizing the show. People seemed understood about SAORI style of fashion show. Audience became models and models went back to seats to be audience. There were many wonderful variety of clothing. It was a great praise for me to receive words from Kenzo and Masako saying that they saw huge growth compared to the previous conference two years ago. It is true that there were many creative patterns and weaving. Several patterns were no sewing and no cutting.
I lead two workshop on the weekend. One was making a hat without sewing. I was really not sure since I have not made this hat for a long time. So I talked to teachers from Japan and Misuzu agreed to help me for that. I was so glad that she was there to give us tips to adjust each fabric to make shapes.
This pattern is very popular in Japan for more than decades. Many people in Japan make this hats to donate to cancer patients who loose hair for the chemo therapy and Misuzu is one of those people. She donates at least 100 hat in a year and she has been doing this for several years by now. She wove fabric for hats and some of her students help to make it to hats by pulling threads, tying knots and braiding.
Everyone who made hats looked so happy. Some wore the hat throughout the rest of the conference!
Another workshop I lead was about the construction of SAORI clothing. Actually until Kathleen Keenan (SAORI SRQ) asked me for the workshop at her studio last January, I didn’t realize that it helped people so much to understand the written pattern in the books. Using receipt paper tape is the way I learned originally in Kyoto SAORI studio. I have been using this way all the time and have shown to my students at my classes. However, I didn’t think this could be a workshop for those who have never sewn or who are not comfortable sewing yet. When I showed paper patterns at SAORI SRQ, ladies mentioned that it would be more helpful if they made the paper patterns with me. That’s how this idea came to me. I had many positive comments from the participants. Again, I didn’t have time to take pictures during this workshop. Hope I will have some later (Hanley was taking some.). Now I have more idea how to make the workshop better. It is my joy to help people understand something. I am open to any feedback, too.
The post conference is Kenzo and Masako’s show. They allowed enough time for the participants to do hands on both on the looms and the sewing machines. That was incredibly well received.
I was so grateful to make new friends who have learned SAORI at other studios and occasions. I thought about the first conference in 2006 that my exhusband and I hosted. At that time about a dozen people whom we invited came. The small interests grew and spread out as SAORI movement and it made me so rewarding.
As an organizer, I have several things we could have done differently. However, I enjoyed the entire week full of excitements and friendship.
I drove down to Kensington, Maryland on June 8th to give a lecture and demonstration in Virginia the next day. Diana Guenther was generous enough to be my host for a few days, though we had never met before. She kindly gave me a tour of Dragonfly Fibers and the Yarn Spot. I enjoyed both stores and their respective owners were wonderful.
I was re-introduced to this dye called Color Hue when I visited Sarasota, FL back in January. Since then I have been playing with it and loving it so much. It is a non-toxic, permanent, and easy to dye without heat.
On April 26th the first time to use this dye was held at the studio. People chosen silk or rayon warp which were already wound for a scarf size. (100ends x 2.5 meter long). First, we tied the warp with plastic packaging cords to cover some area that we didn’t want the color in.
Then make an individual color dye bath in a plastic zip-lock bag, put the warp in to make the yarn soaked completely and gently rub yarn until all the dye was sucked up to see the water gets clear. It is just like acid dye with wool. The water in the zip-lock bag got completely clear (in case for rayon there are some color left).
Then untie the cords and apply different color there or over-dye the whole warp in to new color.
Since we don’t have a sink at the studio, people should rinse them at home later.
It gave us an immediate graphical result. We applied additional colors using a spray bottle to target the area we wanted the color to be. We used a silk fabric to wipe out the table to suck all the drips of dye which would be used for Sakiori.
We learned the color gets lighter when it gets dried. Our learning has just started. Hope to study this dye monthly…. Look for another workshop in June!
SAORI Weaver SRQ is a new studio in Sarasota, FL. It opened last November by Kathleen Keenan who has been a traditional weaver and got trained at my studio. She used to teach at Artist Guild in Falmouth, MA and moved down to FL last year.
She set up 5 intensive workshop and a day with my presentation followed by SAORI kai. It was amazing 6 days. 2 full day weaving with pre-set warp, a cloth making construction workshop followed by a visit Ringling Museum, a full day of cloth making and a dying workshop.
First of all, because Kathleen and all 7 attendees were wonderful, all the workshop went very well. They were very open minded people who had art/weaving backgrounds and/or teaching experiences. Some of them were fiber artists and most of them knew each other which made this intensive learning possible.
The clothing workshop was the most challenging day. There were many dramas. Some could not figure out what they would like to make out of the pieces, some realized the initial plan would not work and some got stuck in the middle of creating. It was great to have each other to encourage and suggest new possibilities. Some completed the projects and some didn’t. However, at the end everyone smiled. At least everyone had plans that they knew they could finish it up.
I enjoyed a dying workshop because Betsy introduced fascinating dye called Color Hue. I told how to tie-dye SAORI way at first. And we put dye in a clear plastic bag, put yarn without washing (we dyed silk warp) and squeeze the bag to let yarn absorb dye color. Untie the plastic cords and add new color to white parts. I kept experimenting with this dye at home now hoping to share this at my studio soon.
Thank you, Kathleen for your generous hospitality. Of course the sunset at Siesta Bay Beach was one memorable scene on this trip!
This year our Studio Exhibition & Holiday Market is going on since Dec. 12th – 24th. It actually started. I will be here at the studio on Sunday until 6pm, Monday 10-6, and Tuesday 10-6. Please stop by to see the wonderful collective work from our studio. I am so proud of my students. The variety of work are done by a 10 years-old girl to a 82 years-old man. Some are for sale. You may find a one-of- a – kind of special gift for your loved one.
There are scarves, tapestries, clothing, hats, wall hangings, pouches, card cases, sweat shirts, T-shirts, note cards and acrylic scrubbers.
There are some banners, too.
Also, my sister Maho has sent her Chinese Knotting accessories from Japan, too. She makes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, barrets (for hair) and ornaments.
Don’t you feel like wanting to make one by yourself? I will be happy to help you.
The studio is closed on Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, and Jan. 1-3rd. However, I will check emails everyday so please let me know if you want to learn weaving in 2014. It’s great pleasure to make your own clothing and house decoration. Get your inner creativity energized to balance your life! SAORI Weaving is truly a “Moving Meditation”.
We had another SAORI kai on Nov. 16th . There were about 20 people attended this time and it went very well.
The huge difference from the past SAORI kai was that there were more clothing besides scarves and banners. Also, there were pieces from all kind of interesting techniques and challenges such as dyed warp, make-up own patterns and collaborative with other medium. Janet’s tunic was made from a piece with inter-locking warp.
10 years-old Mariana has completed Basic Course recently. Now she is working on a big shawl at her Advanced Basic Course.
Ann made a pair of pants. She said that it was so comfortable to wear.
Maya had made a school bag last year. After the first year at High school the bag was worn out. So she has made a new bag this summer for her second year.
There were sisters who took a first trial class in the afternoon on that day and a lady who was weaving at home on a rigid heddle loom. This SAORI kai convinced them to start their Basic Course afterward.
I am so sorry that I didn’t take good pictures at this gathering. I am learning how to use iPad and iPhone to focus and it is not so easy. Anyhow I hope you get a feeling of our SAORI kai from this post. I also realized that we needed to do this more often otherwise we would not have enough time to share everything. Next time let’s plan to have yarn swap and warp exchange. Hope you join us!
Nov 16th (Sat.), 3:30pm-5:30pm (right after class)
at 18 Winslow St., Worcester, MA
Show & Tell and a slide show about Japan tour 2013. Please bring your SAORI work for presentation. Studio members are creating inspiring and beautiful pieces so come to share and learn from each other. Cookies and hot beverages will be provided. Feel free to bring contributions. This is a public event so please bring your friends and families.
Misao Jo is the founder of SAORI Weaving. First time I read SAORI book I quite didn’t understand it. While I was reading more and researching more about it, I came to be impressed by the whole philosophy. After leaning traditional weaving with 4 harness loom I attempted SAORI technique by myself when I was living in Michigan. I was not sure if I was doing right. I didn’t have anyone around me whom I could ask about this for. So I wrote a letter to Misao longing for some kind of advice. I remember she called my mother in Japan to let her know about a TV or radio program she was in. Also, she wrote back to me quickly with her hand writing. This was 18 years ago. I was so moved by her passion and sincere response. I am sure I wrote back to her again.
When I moved back to Kyoto, Japan in 1996, I started learning SAORI. It was a great time for me to escape from taking care of a baby to enjoy my hobby. Eventually, I took this more serious and decided to take this art with me when I move back to US in future. While I was living in Kyoto, I have attended Misao’s lecture and SAORI events to know more about her. She was a typical Kansai(Osaka region) lady who was very friendly and had a great sense of humor. When I told her that I was going to start my studio in US, she immediately grabbed me and made me sit down next her. She burst out SAORI philosophy for a long time. She also told me how well SAORI was accepted at VSA conference in Washington DC and emphasized that SAORI philosophy could be understood to people in foreign countries since it had universal quality. I was so touched by her passion and responsibility at that time. When I was taking SAORI classes in Kyoto, she was busy writing, having lectures and attending events all over Japan and beyond.
We had a SAORI kai (gathering) last Saturday at the studio. There were 14 people attended age 18 to 82. We had a birthday cake for our great teacher Misao Jo who turned 100 on this day. I felt so fortunate to celebrate her 100th birthday at my studio with my studio members.
We had a delicious potluck supper, show and tell and a short video of Misao. Here are some scenes from it.