I would LOVE to have looms to use for this… Hey, I do… My Cricket looms and Flips (assuming the folks are able to hold the shuttles)!!
Hmm… I wonder how I could get started offering FREE classes for mentally and/or physically handicapped kids and adults?? Anyone know???
Here’s what I’m talking about:
In Japan in the late 1960s, a woman named Misao Jo, then in her mid 50s, decided she wanted to weave a sash (obi) for her kimono by hand. Her husband and sons built her a handloom, and her 84-year-old mother taught her how to weave! However, Ms. Jo soon felt that her weaving in the conventional style was imitating the regularity and predictability of a machine. She said, “I have a brain and emotion. I’m a human being. I will weave an obi that is full of humanity.” She allowed herself to skip threads in an unforced, rhythmic way, introducing unusual stripes and fringes that resulted in original work of striking expressiveness. She kept experimenting, enjoying herself to a degree that she hadn’t believed possible, but wondering whether others would perceive her work as “really good.” Finally, she brought her work to the owner of a fashionable kimono shop. To her surprise and delight, he bought all the work she showed him, sold it quickly, and asked for more. When she tried to fill his orders for a specific pattern she had made previously, however, she found that her joy in weaving was gone. Realizing that spontaneity was the secret of her success, she determined to teach this wonderful way to others. At age 92, she is still active in this movement today. (From http://www.saoriworcester.com/what.htm )
[The following text is excerpted by permission from the SAORI Japan Headquarters' invitation to a SAORI workshop following the 2004 Very Special Arts International Conference in Washington, DC. The focus below is on people with physical and developmental disabilities. However, SAORI's goals of self-discovery, healing, self-reliance, and simplicity have value for ALL people, and can indeed build common ground between people with and without disabilities of various kinds:]
SAORI is a contemporary hand-weaving program founded in Japan through which everyone can express herself or himself freely regardless of age, gender, disability or intellectual aptitude. It was first introduced overseas in 1986 at the first International VSA arts Festival in Washington D.C. It has since been welcomed in more than 40 countries. In Japan alone, there are more than 30,000 SAORI weavers, including many people with disabilities enjoying SAORI at more than 2,000 facilities. SAORI contributes to disabled people as a rehabilitation method and also as an art form.
1. Self-discovery for people with disabilities.
The ultimate goal of SAORI is to release people with or without disabilities from all the restrictions of conventional hand weaving, and to help them find their true selves through weaving. In SAORI, we do put more importance on the free expression and creativity rather than the technical skills or the regularity of the width, pattern or colours of threads. We emphasize that we do not have to imitate machine-made products. The irregular selvage, loose thread and accidental skip of thread add to the beauty of SAORI cloth.
2. Rehabilitation for people with disabilities.
Through SAORI weaving, disabled people become interested in creative activities, and find joy in artistic expression. In SAORI, we do not teach what to weave. Rather, we help develop individual creativity by praising the brilliant works woven with pure inspiration. Weavers with and without disabilities become self-confident by finding that they can do something creative without any restrictions.We have seen many cases in Japan of people with physical and intellectual disabilities such as hemi-paresis, body impairment and communicative disorder undergoing dramatic improvement after starting SAORI.
3. Independence for people with disabilities
SAORI is not only effective as rehabilitation, but also creates opportunities for independence. In Japan , SAORI clothes woven by people with intellectual and other disabilities are highly valued and popular at department stores. For example, small scarves sell about US$30–80 . Teachers and volunteers at each facility sew the SAORI fabric woven by people with disabilities into bags and clothes. 500–800 such items are sold each year. Though we cannot yet assess the sales figures of every facility in Japan, we estimate that SAORI products produced at those facilities in Japan amount to total annual sales of at least US$300,000.