Unique weaving brings Japanese artistic freedom to Clunes

Prue Simmons is bringing a taste of Japan to regional Victoria at her studio Dyeing to Weave in Clunes.

She is one of three SAORI teachers in Australia who shares her passion for a freestyle form of Japanese weaving based on creativity and individuality. 

JAPANESE WEAVING: Clunes resident Prue Simmons is one of three SAORI teachers in Australia. It is a creative and expressive Japanese form of weaving which she says also offers meditation, relaxation and individuality.

JAPANESE WEAVING: Clunes resident Prue Simmons is one of three SAORI teachers in Australia. It is a creative and expressive Japanese form of weaving which she says also offers meditation, relaxation and individuality.

Simmons learnt the craft at an arts and craft village in the mountains of Japan in 2007.

“I went over to Japan as a zoologist and came back as a SAORI weaver,” she said. 

In Japanese, ‘sa-’ comes from the Zen word ‘sai’ meaning individuality and ‘-ori’ is the word for weaving.

It was the beautiful simplicity of the craft that hooked Simmons, and with no previous experience in textiles, the freedom of the art form without the need for perfection was appealing. 

“With traditional forms of weaving it is often very pattern based, very mathematical and very precise. The only rule with SAORI is there is no such thing as a mistake because everything you are weaving comes from your heart,” she said. 

“At the end of the day you end up getting this beautiful tangible moment in time of how you were feeling that day because you are often led by your gut and your heart about what colours feel good and what textures feel good, rather than trying to replicate a pattern.

“For me it was this creative form of meditation and self expression, and the fact that everything you do is entirely unique, that got me hooked.” 

SAORI weavers use a variety of materials including wool, silk, paper, and according to Simmons, whatever is at hand. 

“I think sustainability is really important in our textiles… we’re so wasteful with our textiles… so it is great to now be teaching people to make their own textiles in a really sustainable way,” she said. 

Simmons spent four weeks living in Japan in 2015 with the founder of SAORI, who is now 104-years-old, to become a qualified teacher. 

She started Dyeing to Weave in Clunes the same year with a passion to share with others the art form that had changed her life. “

SAORI is something that absolutely anyone can do... I feel very privileged to be able to teach it and be that link between these two very special places,” she said.

Visit http://www.dyeingtoweave.com.au/ for more information. 

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