If I had gone to a fortune-teller in Minneapolis in 1990 – let’s imagine a dark-haired woman with a crystal ball and a gypsy scarf around her head – and she attempted to tell me I’d be living in southern California in 2016, I would have laughed out loud. If she told me that my friend Patti Hall would one day retire and also move to California where both of us would have adult children who lived a few blocks from each other, I would have
rolled my eyes and droned, “Yeah, right.”
But here it is 2016 and Patti lives in Toluca Lake and I live in the OC and we meet often for lunch at some beach-y restaurant with seagulls and surfers and sometimes a stray dolphin swimming by. Patti might not have been as surprised by the imaginary fortune teller’s California predictions because, after all, she did start her young adult life out here on the West Coast, attending Cal-State, Los Angeles where she received her BA in Art. It might have been predictable as well, that after years teaching and mentoring new teachers, Patti would finally be able to devote herself full-time to her own personal artistic pursuits when she retired.
It was over a margarita at Duke’s in Huntington Beach (Surf City, USA) that I started asking Patti more about the weaving that I knew she was pursuing full-time and about her shop in the Etsy store I had recently visited online.
“I took a weaving class in college”, she started telling me as we looked out the window of Duke’s to the waves crashing up on shore. ”I enjoyed it, but the techniques were very mathematical and structured.”
Then Patti’s eyes lit up as she started to explain to me a method of weaving that she had stumbled upon here in LA, and it was at that point I decided that we needed another margarita, and that I had the makings of a great blog interview in the person sitting right next to me at our high top table. Patti agreed to do an interview right then and there, so I grabbed a bar napkin and started taking notes. (I heard some of the greatest interviews by journalists were done on bar napkins.)
OK. Patti, so tell me, what makes this method of weaving so unique? (I started writing as fast as my flair pen could go.)
Well, it’s a ZEN way of weaving from Japan that values creativity, free expression, originality, and uniqueness. It’s called Saori.
Like in ‘I’m so Saori?’ Bad joke. Now I really am sorry, Patti. (Patti smiled graciously as if this weren’t the 100th time she heard this joke, and she gave me the correct spelling and pronunciation of Saori. Not being able to exactly imitate the pronunciation, I satisfied myself with writing down the correct spelling and forged on with the interview. OK. Go on…Tell me more about the Saori method.
This philosophy really guides me as an artist. Each weaving is the only one of its kind. I like to experiment with color, materials, and different methods. After I got here in LA and got settled; I started taking classes from Laura Roveda at Saori Studio. It was really life changing!
So how does this Saori method work with your over-all process, Patti? (I caught the waitress’s eye and asked for more napkins to continue the interview).
Well, there’s a quote that explains my process… “The only conscious choice I make is the yarn itself at the beginning of a project… How and where those yarns appear in the weaving – I leave that up to the universe.” I love choosing materials for weaving. It’s a little like painting…and a little like sculpture.
I’m curious, Patti. I notice that your yarns are various textures and you use objects within your weaving. Where do you get your materials?
I buy Saori yarn from Japan and other fibers from La Knitterie Parisienne in Studio City. I supplement that with rope, twine, jute, and other things, like copper, from the hardware store. Flea markets are wonderful. I usually add natural items – driftwood from Oregon, seashells from Sanibel Island in Florida, and birch branches from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Your Etsy store is beautiful, Patti. I called you one day and the very next week, it seems Joyful Weaving seemed to be up and running! So how easy is it to put up a shop at Etsy?
It was really a relatively easy process to set up Joyful Weaving. Etsy gives help and guides a person along the way. I spend time each week updating and maintaining my shop. It’s much like you would if you had an actual store.
Does anything stand out especially to you in your experience with Etsy?
As a first time entrepreneur, Etsy made it easy to set up my shop. Buyers have a choice of payment options and I can print my own shipping labels. The Etsy sellers’ app gives me a wealth of information including shop activity, stats broken down by day, month, and year, and quick access to orders and listings.
Your shop seems special, Patti. What makes it feel that way?
Well, first of all, I enjoy giving my wall hangings names and writing their descriptions. I also love photographing the weaving process – the materials, work on the loom, and the finished piece in different ways. I even love packaging my orders for shipment. All in all, a lot of love goes into creating the weaving and it continues all the way up to sending it off to a buyer.
So your wall hangings are being sent far and wide, I take it. Where have you sent your works so far?
I’ve had customers from California, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin.
What’s next for JoyfulWeaving?
I’d like to begin to sell my work in small shops in my neighborhood. As an artist, I want to continue to explore my craft, experiment with different materials, and always express love, beauty, and originality through weaving.
We could have gone on in my interview, but the margaritas were gone, the waitress stopped giving me napkins to write on, and rush hour traffic would be beginning soon. So like “Stuart” in the Californians comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live, I told Patti she better hurry and get on the 405 N before traffic got heavy and she’d be delayed getting on the 605 N and it would take forever to get to the 5 N which will bunch up at Griffith Park. It’s just lucky that California has native Midwesterners like Patti Hall whose beautiful and stunning hand-woven art helps keep the whole crazy place grounded.