SAORImôr is a weaving studio located just off Bangor High Street. The studio offers lessons in SAORI Weaving, a special type of Japanese weaving created just 40 years ago!
Seren were invited by owner Rosie Green to go and try our hand at the Japanese art of SAORI Weaving, which we were more than enthusiastic to try, I myself have been bitten by the craft bug recently so this particular Seren excursion was right up my street! At first we weren’t too sure where the little studio was but as we rounded the corner by the railway bridge on the high street we spotted the quaint blue woodwork and knew we were in the right place. Upon entering we were asked to remove our shoes, and I, being a Japanese enthusiast, jumped to ask whether that was down to Japanese culture – which it was, but it was also because of gravel from the car park! The studio had a lovely feel to it, nicely laid out and had wonderful colourful examples of SAORI all around the room. It was particularly interesting to see Rosie’s own creations about the room. As well as having a go ourselves we asked owner Rosie a few questions:
Firstly, what is SAORI Weaving?
SAORI was invented by Misao Jo, and completely by accident when she was trying out traditional weaving. In the mistakes she made she was able to see individualism and personal expression, which is why there are no mistakes in SAORI; only complete personalised freedom, which brings the cloth to life! SAORI is not just weaving, it’s a philosophy. This simplicity makes it an ideal task for any emotional state whether you’re stressed, happy or sad and allows you to express who you are. This also makes it an ideal task for people with learning difficulties.
How did you discover SAORI?
I have been weaving all my adult life and I worked in a weaving centre in Llanberis back in the 80s, and, as many others have experienced its hard to earn a living selling your own crafted products. For a while I tried to give classes on traditional weaving but people seem to underestimate themselves and tend to think weaving is too hard or requires great skill so that didn’t work out for me. SAORI, I feel, brings weaving in line with other approachable crafts like knitting, crochet, felting etc. The lack of pressure to do everything perfectly makes it a perfect craft for beginners, everybody can do it!
I moved here in the 80s and have never left! I originally moved for a job in a weaving centre on Anglesey, demonstrating weaving to tourists. I chose Bangor for SAORImôr because it’s easily accessible not just to the local community but to students and people internationally too. I love that Bangor is surrounded by nature as well, SAORI is a great way to reconnect to the world and what better place to do it in?
Tells us about the studio!
We offer classes on the basics of SOARI building on people’s skills each time they come back to us, there are no patterns to follow and nothing to prepare so what you experience in class is all from within yourself. We offer half hour taster sessions £10, basic two hour classes for £25, a course of 6 2-hour basic classes for £135 and a course of 6 2-hour advanced classes for £135. Although we do offer these classes, they are not regimented and I encourage people to just come when they want to and pay for the exact amount of time they are here.
I hope to promote SAORI as more of a leisure activity, something you can pop in and do when you have an hour to spare, like with swimming or going to the gym. I want people to see the social side of the craft and to create a community around it here in Bangor. It’s all about sharing experiences and having fun and nobody is better at it than anybody else because its all personal! Eventually I would like to set up a kind of membership programme that you can join when you’ve reached the top of your learning, where you pay monthly and just come in whenever you want to work on projects and fabrics. I want people to be able to grow their confidence in the craft by seeing their cloth become something unique to them! I would also personally love to be involved in more Japanese crafts and culture.
The official opening of SAORImôr is Friday 19th September and Rosie is also taking part in Helfa Gelf Art Trail all through September! Feel free to pop in and see her, we had a lovely time exploring our crafty sides and I’m sure you will too!