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Market matters: Q&A with Karen Pardee, Serendipity Saori Studio

Karen Pardee, of Serendipity Saori Studio, stands with her saori loom, which allows her to create free-style patterns. Pardee is collecting woven community banners to raise funds for tsunami victims in Japan.

Karen Pardee, of Serendipity Saori Studio, stands with her saori loom, which allows her to create free-style patterns. Pardee is collecting woven community banners to raise funds for tsunami victims in Japan. Photo by Stephanie Bouvia.

The Marcellus Open Air Market opened Thursday, June 7, in Marcellus Park. Throughout the summer, the Eagle Observer will interview farmers and other vendors at the local market to find out what’s in season and what’s in store for the coming months.

Introducing: Karen Pardee, of Serendipity Saori Studio in Skaneateles

What are you selling today?

“I do freestyle hand-wovens, so I do scarves, shawls, bags, little accessories, all with my own hand-woven fabric. Even my shirt!”

What makes your products unique?

“Mostly it’s because of this loom. I import this loom from Japan, it’s called a saori loom. ‘Sa’ is like a Zen word for individuality, and ‘ori’ means weaving in Japanese, so it’s like your own individual. It’s not where you set up, like a traditional loom, to make a certain pattern. So I sit down at the loom and it’s all free-style, so I mix pattern, and color and texture, and I think that’s what makes it different from everybody else’s — they haven’t seen anything like it.”

How did you get started in this business?

“A couple years ago I had a medical problem, and I lost my short-term memory, and I had to put my loom away. I couldn’t do it anymore because you’re following a certain series of steps to create that pattern, and I couldn’t do it, no matter what I did, using sticky notes or index cards, or whatever trick I tried. I put my loom away for like five years. And then I came across saori on the Internet, it was a fluke thing. And as soon as I saw it I was like, ‘That’s how I want to weave.’ A year and a half ago, I spent a year studying with a Japanese woman in Worcester, Mass., and in November, I became an authorized saori studio. At the time, there were only seven authorized saori studios in North America.”

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