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About Chiaki

Meet Chiaki

Chiaki O'Brien of Studio FUNConnections

I am a SAORI Weaving artist/teaching artist, Bengala Dye artist/teaching artist and Taiko Performer, instructor. I teach people of all ages and abilities.

It has been 11 years since I moved to Minnesota, U.S.A. from Japan.
I not only started planting SAORI Weaving seeds in Minnesota/Midwest, but also planting “roots for myself”.  I didn’t know anybody except for my husband’s family. I started working at a Montessori preschool to gain experience working in this country and  make connections with other people! Not only that, I was able to learn English from the pre-schoolers that were good level for me to learn English!
“My coned yarn” was very small in 2004, but now I have a BIG AND THICK coned yarn! I sometimes refer to this to express how my connections has grown! (Of course, because I am a weaver!)
Because of the connections through working at the preschool, teaching SAORI Weaving/Bengala Dyeing, performing/teaching Taiko and other activities I participated in,  my coned yarn is huge and is still growing!
SAORI, Bengala Dye, and Taiko have been providing many great opportunities for me to connect with new people and communities.

I met with and started Bengala Dyeing and Taiko (Japanese drumming) after I came to Minnesota because of the connections I made. I have more communities to be involved in because of these which brings me joy!
I think the seeds I have been sewing are growing and blooming. I appreciate all the wonderful people I have met!
I will not stop planting more of myself. It give me new life!

What is SAORI?

SAORI has four slogans:loom
• Consider the differences between machines and people
• Weave with a Happy Heart
• Explore with all your might
• Learn together as a group

“SA” of SAORI has the same meaning as the first syllable of the word “SAI” which is found in Zen vocabulary. It means everything has its own individual dignity and “ORI” means weaving.

All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color. Because of this difference, “all are good.” Because everything has the same life, life cannot be measured by a yardstick. It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life.

~ Misao Jo, founder of SAORI

SAORI is a big part of my life.

SAORI connected me to many people and because of them, I now enjoy Taiko and Bengala Dye work. SAORI has given me encouragement to try things rather than later regretting not having tried.
SAORI taught me to think, “oh well” rather than being stressed.
SAORI is not just a weaving style. It is more than that. I think everyone who appreciates SAORI understands what I mean, but each of these people have different stories to tell.

What I am going to share with you is just one of them.

I didn’t like sewing when I was a student. All of my sewing projects and homework were done by my mother or by my friends. There was no way I would make my own clothes. I just went to stores to buy clothing made by someone else.
That was me about 16 years ago, until SAORI appeared in my life.felted owl
I believe that everyone has doors that lead to new fields/worlds in our lives.
I used to have a “sewing door” that I would never open in my life.
Now, it is wide open! I challenged myself to sew together fabric that I had woven. My SAORI friends were the inspiration. Now a girl who didn’t even try sewing at all when she was a student has a sewing machine and makes things from scratch! Once I started making things, I started to feel like fixing things myself when something was broken. I can say I care more about things.
I try to figure out how to fix things as well.

Figuring things out….

I often tell people in my SAORI class to figure it out (yourself). SAORI doesn’t have right answers. We have the right answers! Whatever the SAORI instructors tell you is not the right answer; it’s just one way of doing something.
Think about your life. If you are stuck, you have to figure it out to get out of the problems. SAORI is the same. When you figure out and are able to get out the problem, I am sure you are way happier than getting some ideas or solutions from someone else outside yourself.
This is another interesting part of SAORI, too I think.
Of course, you can ask the instructors and/or other people around you for ideas.
We all can figure it out together, too. That’s fun. That’s how we learn together as a group as well.
Anyway, Dan and I have a home studio called “Studio FUN.” People come to enjoy weaving and/or dyeing. Dan and I hosted a U.S. SAORI Conference in the summer of 2008. When we did a public event, a Japanese lady in Minnesota called me to sign up for the event. Now she is my friend and she is the one asked me to join the Taiko class because it was so much fun. I’m grateful that she enjoys sharing.
I like music and I was in a marching band playing percussions so I kind of knew that I would enjoy playing Taiko, so I signed up to take an intro class, and I got hooked!! Yes, it was fun. I love the energy and the teamwork (group drumming). I never played the Taiko back in Japan, though I used to dance around the Taiko at festivals when I was little. Also, I was in a marching band playing percussion, another reason I like music.
Now, I am one of the Taiko performing group members and go to perform Taiko at schools, festivals, and so on. I am fortunate to be able to go places and share my own culture.