SAORI loom with red thread

SAORI Japanese weaving workshop

Shizuka Ryokan will be rife with creativity and sustainability this November during a three day SAORI Japanese weaving workshop.

The philosophy of SAORI is an interesting one. The word SAORI comes from ‘sai’ meaning individuality, and ‘ori’ meaning weaving. SAORI is markedly different from other forms of hand weaving because the weaver is encouraged to make mistakes. In traditional hand weaving regularity is the law, an irregular thread is considered a mistake. In SAORI things are very different.

SAORI weavers follow four slogans:

1) Consider the differences between a machine and a human being
2) Be bold and adventurous
3) Let’s look out through eyes that shine
4) Inspire one another, and everyone in the group

Japan is renowned for the wabi-sabi philosophy, which can be loosely defined as a world view centered on the acceptance of imperfection. The wabi sabi aesthetic is in evidence at Shizuka Ryokan. For example, upon arrival guests receive green tea in an irregularly shaped Japanese cup. The style of the Japanese pottery is called hagi ware; the cup is rustic and simple looking, with unrefined textures and is beautiful because it is flawed. The philosophy of SAORI weaving is the same. SAORI weavers celebrate the accidents; the unexpected colours and textures.

Misao Jo invented SAORI in the late sixties. She was weaving an obi, a Japanese belt, and found that one of the threads was missing. Looking at the belt she realised that the mistake was pleasing to behold. She showed it to a person running a weaving factory who dismissed it as flawed and worthless but this did not deter Misao who had an inherent sense of the value of the handmade object. She deliberately made a belt with many flaws and showed it to the owner on an obi shop in Osaka who thought it was wonderful. Misao sensed that the aesthetic quality of the flawed obi must be the result of something hidden within herself. She realised that the obi’s beauty was a result of escaping conventional thinking in order to express herself. SAORI weaving was born.

The SAORI workshop at Shizuka will be taught by Prue Simmons, founder of the Dying To Weave SAORI Studio. Prue is one of only three SAORI teachers in Australia. She learned traditional Japanese weaving and natural dye techniques from Toyomi Harada in the mountains of Honshu, Japan. Prue is interested in sustainability, natural dyes, upcycling and environmentally friendly textiles. Prue and her partner run White Stone Farm in Central Victoria. On the farm Prue raises llamas and uses their fleece to weave beautiful pieces.

The SAORI retreat runs Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th November 2017.


Further exploring:

ABC profile of Prue

Video (in Japanese) of SAORI process

Wikipedia explanation of wabi sabi