What magic can unfold when you don’t have a plan? This has been a guiding question of my life. (and as people who know me can attest, this leads to an unusually interesting life!)
For years I have studied and practiced a form of improvisational dance called Contact Improvisation. Within this dance form is an endless query into what it means to improvise: to make decisions that arise out of an innate spontaneous impulse found in the present moment. I’ve spent many hours observing this question and putting it into practice by allowing the body to move organically without choreography or a predisposed notion of what it was going to look like.
In my weaving, I can’t resist but to continue working with this question. Weaving requires much more planning and calculation than other art forms, such as painting; hours of thought and tedious work must go into setting up the warp on the loom. But within the confines of that structure, I always leave a space for the spark of improvisation to light my creative path.
Making creative decisions is a highly personal matter. For me the dance of improvisation adds an element of mystery and magic, and it allows for a feeling of “collaboration” between unseen universal forces.
The concept of “improvisational weaving” has become popularized in recent years in the Japanese approach called “Saori” weaving, in which the weaver creates the design spontaneously at the loom without following a pattern or being confined by the traditional “rules” of weaving. In Saori weaving there are no mistakes.
While I do not consider myself a Saori weaver per say (as I love complex weaving patterns too much to give that up!) I love and appreciate the freedom that comes to follow an inspirational whim while sitting at the loom and trying something new that wasn’t in the original plan.
And that is indeed, where the magic lies.