Curiousweaver studio is woven together by Kaz (Karen) Madigan. A weaver for almost 40 years, since 2011 she has been specialising in Saori weaving and is the first registered Saori studio in Australia.
“As a weaver for many years I have explored and tried many types of weaving. I love it all. I’ve walked in shoes of the artist, craftsman, designer, maker, author, teacher and artisan. But it seems that teaching and writing about weaving suits me best. It makes me happy to meet others who get happy by working threads through each other into cloth.
“Weaving is both an ancient and modern human need. With cloth the same as we continue to weave found in the Judean desert dating to 7,160 BC/BCE and in Peru even earlier, the awe of human history and weaving processes connects us intimately to others who have gone before us and those to come. Technology and situations change but not our Raison d’être . Our world produces such a variety of weaving processes that a study of this leads you to a deep enthrallment with the ingenuity of humans and a better understanding of cultural practices and the needs of humans. At least it has for me. I am just getting more passionate about handweaving the older I get.
“Cloth making is also extremely satisfying and even therapeutic in some situations. Like baking bread it provides a sense of independence and achievement in making something real, tangible and even usable in our lives. It’s the perfect art for freeing the mind and feeling productive after working on computers all day.
“When I wrote the Australian Weaving Book in 1990 (Weaving Made Easy in UK) I wanted it to be a starter with little outlay for all to enjoy weaving and creating. To build creative skills both with the hands and mind. I’ve always felt that handweaving should be available to anyone much like knitting and crochet is for many of us. The tools for weaving can be very simple indeed and can be seen, for example, in work of American weaver Shelia Hicks or in the backstrap weaving used around the world. Simple tools doesn’t mean simple weaving though. The simpler the tool the more skill the weaver needs in most cases.
“Gradually over the years of weaving, buying and selling looms I stumbled on Saori Weaving. Like several others in Australia I purchased one from Japan without seeing it. (It is rare to see a loom before buying one in Australia anyway). I found that the loom itself was able to take any struggle out of weaving and allowed more weaving time. The approach developed by Misao Jo in Japan also awakened another part of the weaving brain for me. I’ve never liked table looms as I found them frustrating to work on but the Saori floor loom in such a compact form appealed greatly. It’s comfortable to use and more suited to how we grab moments of time in our busy lives. This also came at a time when I finally owned a 24 shaft computer loom which was a total dream. As with most things in life the dream wasn’t totally thought through and has forced me to question what ‘progression’ is. Is pattern complexity and computer technology a higher form of existence and achievement. Yes, but also no! As much as I love complexity and the pattern capabilities of computer assisted looms the opportunity to develop some freer ways of approaching handweaving is very welcome and opportune.
“Often handweaving is perceived as having a dedicated and longer learning curve which is apt given its enormous history and skill development. But Saori weaving and the looms themselves offers instantaneous weaving which invites a free style way rather than a technical way. You can continue to explore free style textiles or learn about other styles depending on your bent. In this way I think Saori weaving, and the tools developed for it are quite innovative and timely.
“Along the way I’ve also enjoyed teaching adults with disabilities at North Coast TAFE and developing online courses as an Instructional Designer. I think the Interweb is the greatest development of our time. It allows humans to interact and learn skills that they need now and we are still only seeing the infancy of how far this can go in creating a better world…at least that was the initial hope! Like the Saori philosophy, the Internet and its tentacles offer freedom, equality and independence for many and I believe it should be very accessible to all and no-one should be left out.
“It is wonderful that I can now offer the Saori tools and teaching in Australia. The most exciting part is meeting everyone who has come my way. I learn more about others – their lives – their styles – their dreams… and in between we weave cloth.”
Kaz is currently a columnist for Down Under Textiles writing about her explorations in weave. She has taught Saori workshops to many Australian guilds and Easy ikat and warp painting at the Online Guild of Weavers and private workshops, including adult education and TAFENSW. Kaz has written for many craft magazines including Handwoven and was publisher of Curiousweaver Journal which are available as free pdfs. Some chapters of the Australian Weaving book, written by Kaz, are also available here. Her Craftsy articles can be found here. The booklet “T-shirt yarns” published in 1988, to learn how to create your own yarns from t-shirts can be downloaded here.
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