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Artist-in-Residence (March 2018)

I had been to Terri’s SAORI studio in the woods on three separate occasions before this trip and I thought this would just be a longer version of those experiences. I didn’t realize that this Artist In Residency was going to be different in so many ways. It turned out to be not only the creative experience I was craving, but also an emotional and spiritual experience as well.

Studio in the woods

I promised myself that I would not have any goals or pre-meditated outcomes and that I would just “go with the flow”. I was committed to just living in the moment, and allowing myself to weave what was inspiring me, which ended up being about weaving the landscape of the island.

Artist in Residence, Salt Spring weaving

Terri and I usually met in the studio in the mornings – and I would ask for guidance with different techniques I was interested in learning as well as feeling more comfortable with Kenzo’s table top warping technique.

Judy Sysak, Kenzo's warping method

Terri is so wonderful at just allowing things to bubble to the surface and she was there to help with whatever I asked. I ended up weaving the landscape of the island, working in colours that I generally am not drawn to in shades of the sky/trees/rocky beaches; greens/blues/steel greys and brown hues.

Salt Spring Landscape

I napped and walked in the afternoon, or I went to town and strolled through the shops and art galleries. In the evenings I wove on a loom Terri had put in my room – that had a a white warp with large gaps in the threading. Some evenings, I would pad over to the studio and weave or I would flip through her pattern books until I was ready for bed. I found myself re-reading the Self Innovation Through Free Weaving (The Purple Book) and specifically the parts about Misao Jo’s journey into SAORI weaving and how she intuitively just let her weaving unfold. It reminded me that SAORI is about weaving to find our true selves and we end up with a unique and personal piece of weaving as a bonus at the end. With the passing of Misao Jo in January – these words felt even more poignant and profound.

Like many women I know, I have struggled with perfectionism and the need to be “striving”. If I’m not working towards a goal, then what is the point? These thoughts still end up being front and centre when I am starting my weaving. I think “what is this going to be?”, “will I ever even wear this colour?”, “what if it’s ugly and I’ve wasted all those materials?”. These thoughts can paralyze my creative spirit. This week was all about accepting that I didn’t need to have any answers to those questions – and that I could just let go and weave what I was feeling without worrying about the end product. This proved to be surprisingly uncomfortable at times, but in the end I was able to find a flow and joy in my weaving and I ended up loving, and feeling connected to the finished cloth.

SAORI Weaving

Another gift of the week was Lynn Jones coming to spend the day with us on Monday. She has been SAORI weaving for almost a decade and she loves the process of sewing her woven pieces into clothing, and helping others “see” their cloth in the light of “what does it want to be”? She brought a suitcase stuffed full of her SAORI woven clothing pieces and I excitedly tried on each one, loving each one even more than the one before. It was so inspirational! We spent the afternoon draping samples of woven cloth I had brought with me in ways I had never thought of or envisioned. Terri & Lynn together are a force! All of a sudden, I just wanted to sew, and for anyone who knows me, I never thought I would ever say those words! I made a short top and two vests while I was there and I love them all. I even wore one to a meeting in downtown Calgary last week which was a huge leap for me! I have a new confidence as well as an exciting and fresh perspective regarding my woven cloth.

copper patina

We closed up my week with a SAORI Kai at Poppet Creative, Terri’s satellite studio in Victoria. I was able to meet all the lovely SAORI weavers that make up this community, and it was such a treat to not only share my work, but to see what other people have been weaving and making with their cloth as well. I loved being a part of such a welcoming group, even if it was just for the day.

clothing design at Poppet Creative, Victoria

In closing, the Artist in Residence experience was about a lot of things. It was about embracing alone time, sipping almond milk chai lattes on the beach,

Fernwood Dock, Salt Spring Island

discovering coconut milk yogurt (so yummy!) and having long uninterrupted naps without laundry, grocery lists or voicemails that needed to be returned. But it also opened up my creative spirit to the question “what if”?. What if I added locks? What if I left a big space on this row? What if I added a completely different colour than I’m currently using? What if I let the edges go loose and create loops?

Lorries Locks

Going into the AIR, I still had so much fear of making a mistake. Then something shifted and I came away with the realization that so many possibilities open up when I just allow myself to ask “what if”? And not just in weaving!

A sincere thank you to Terri, who opens up her studio and her heart to make these retreats possible. I feel so grateful that she and her SAORI teachings have made their way into my life and my heart.

Judy Sysak
Artist in Residence, SAORI Salt Spring
March 3-11, 2018

Fulford Harbour

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SAORI Clothing Design – A vest conversion

Two years ago I made a long, simple vest out of some fabric that I had woven. The vest was 3 strips of fabric sewn together with spaces left for the armholes and slits left in the bottom section. It could be worn two ways and I wrote about it here.

Here it is flat:

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And here was the finished piece:

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I liked it a lot … BUT I didn’t wear it.

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One day a couple of weeks ago, I had an idea. Inspired by Lynn’s Squid family, it occurred to me that the fabric could easily be made into a squid tunic / dress. All I had to do was sew up the seams completely, where I had left them open. Fold it, with one corner at the top – sew it up and cut a couple of new armholes.

And, ta da, it became a squid 🙂 that can be worn either way – the cowl at the front and it looks like a dress…

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The cowl at the back, which becomes a collar and then it looks more like a tunic…

Details…

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AND now I’ve been wearing it a LOT!

It’s good to listen to the cloth…

Happy Weaving,
Terri

My website: www.saorisaltspring.com

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PS…I’m posting much more often on my Facebook page and Instagram account, so you can keep up with happenings there. Or you can join my mailing list here.

8-Ways Tunic

I’m catching up on my blog posting and first want to tell you about a tunic that was created at a retreat here by Lynn of SAORI Berkeley. As one of our retreat activities, Lynn brought a long piece of woven cloth in beautiful colours that she wanted to make into a SAORI garment. She didn’t have anything particular in mind and so we started draping the fabric in different ways.

We found some possibilities, but in the end, it was the drape of a piece of the cloth around her neck that shaped the whole garment. What she ended up with is a wonderful tunic that can be worn 8 ways. How great is that? So the name became the 8-Ways Tunic!

And she started to cut and to sew the piece….

The first way, which is how it came to be, is with a piece of the tunic that can be wrapped around the neck like a scarf …

Now this can be done from the left or the right (2 ways)…

The tunic can also be turned around so that the scarf comes from the back – left or right (2 more ways)…(no photos of this – but here is a detail of the back and the weaving)

Then the piece that is the scarf can be left hanging down with the fringe (front or back – 2 more ways) – at this point it was the 6-Way Tunic….

Later we discovered that the scarf piece could also become a hood – only one way for this one 🙂 (now 7-ways)…

Then, when Lynn took it to show Lorrie (of Ewetopia Farm), they discovered that the ‘scarf’ piece could be worn hanging down, but then bloused up with a belt for another look – one more way – makes it the 8-Ways Tunic – “we learn from each other”. (sorry no photo of this way either – yet).

So, now perhaps you can come up with other ways and it will be renamed again!!

It is basically one long piece for the back, a piece twice as long for the front, folded, fringe left on. And then two smaller pieces for the sides of the tunic. A great design Lynn, with the help of Lynn (from Victoria), Lorrie and I.

Not to mention that she has a lovely piece of cloth left to make another garment. Here is it draped on the dress form…

Happy Weaving (and designing),
Terri

My website: www.saorisaltspring.com

Tara’s Saori Designs

Tara has been coming to weave at my studio and work on clothing design. She does most of her weaving at home on her Saori loom and is now very inspired to make clothing, scarves, wall hangings, table runners, etc. as she is going to be at a market this summer to sell her weavings.

This week she brought a huge basket of cloth that she had woven and we sat down to decide what to make. We worked on two wall hangings, a few scarves and then a vest / top that she wanted to make. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I did get a few of the finished top.

The front:

Taras top

The back:

Taras top

The side:

Taras top

Close-up:

Taras top

Designs by Tara ~ fabulous!

Happy Weaving,
Terri

My website: www.saorisaltspring.com