Sakiori, it turns out, is old-tyme Japanese recycling. Weaving means taking threads that go up and down (warp) and filling them in with threads going left and right (weft). In Sakiori, the weft threads are shreds of rags salvaged from other garments: in fact, saki means rag and ori means weaving (as in Hakata-ori, above, or weaving from the city of Hakata). Sakiori was a way for peasants to repurpose old fabric into something useful and warm. The end result is rather tweedy in texture. Most authentic old sakiori (see here and here) are plain because they were meant to be durable work garments, but just like crazy quilts, they could be made fancier if the artist had the time and resources. Modern sakiori is quite organized and beautiful because it commands a nice price as a traditional handicraft.
The ACROS exhibition was part art display, part sale gallery, and part demonstration. Here's the lady demonstrating the sakiori loom:
The sling on her lower back is made from sakiori and holds the end of the fabric you're working on in your lap. I say "your," but really, I eventually mean "my." We learned long ago that Rule #1 of Asian public events is Call On The Foreigner, so it should come as no surprise that shortly thereafter, I found myself being cinched into the loom and put to work. Being the goofy foreigner is like an automatic "Pass go, collect $200" ticket. Not that I object: after all, it got me on the loom and weaving, right?
(To be perfectly fair - we were the only people under the age of 50 at this exhibition. American handicrafts ladies probably would have pulled me out, too.)
My fumbly attempts to weave and understand Japanese directions were evidently a highlight of the morning for the septuagenarian Japanese set. The lady next to Justin had her mobile phone whipped out and filming within about five seconds of me sitting in the chair. I wonder if I'll end up on Youtube.
Here are Justin's videos of the same:
What do you think? More or less awkward than Justin putting on a kilt?
And some still shots, for posterity: