PCC: What do you create?
SJ: I create two different items in my Etsy shop The Weaver Of Words: hand-woven scarves that are sold with a story and custom stories.
PCC: Tell us a little about yourself
SJ: "I’ve always loved to create in many mediums including creative writing, photography and the textile arts. I’ve always found it to be so incredibly delicious and expansive to express myself freely in an artistic way.
The concept of my custom stories was a process of evolution. In the past, one method that was helpful whenever I got “stuck” in my writing was to pick a random word from a dictionary. Once I found the word, I would use it in a sentence and let the writing spill out, whatever it was. That process always seemed to unblock the flow of words and get me back on track, writing again. Later when I was in a writers group, we played with words, each person picking random words that we would use to write short stories and story snippets.
When I set up shop on Etsy and began creating treasuries, I was introduced to Scavenger Hunt Game, in which treasuries were created with one box for the featured shop, and the other 15 boxes to be filled images relating to 15 words chosen by the featured shop. I just couldn’t let those 15 chosen words go to waste, so I began writing story snippets using the words, and that’s how I got the idea of creating custom stories. As I like to say, “give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale.”
PCC: What made you want to become an artist/fall in love with your craft?
TWoW: I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was a small child. I’ve always been an avid reader too. There’s something so incredibly involving about being fully immersed in a wonderful fictional world created by an artist. It almost feels as if I’m an experiencing an alternative reality, which I guess I am, within my mind. Many times I experience a sort of “jet lag” whenever I finish a chapter of a book, and have readjust my perspective as I leave the “fantasy” world behind and reenter the “real” world.
Regarding the weaving, I’ve always been drawn to yarns, fibers and cloth. I love to feel the varied textures & savor the amazing array of color. I especially love the touch of natural fibers and the muted colors that reflect the colors of the forest, the sky, the sea, the earth and all it’s flora & fauna. I have a weakness for yarn shops, and subsequently have a very large inventory of fibers on hand.
I learned how to crochet as a child, and later to knit and weave as an adult. Being an Aries, I’m sometimes a bit impatient with the process, so weaving works best for me since it’s the quickest method of making scarves.
TWOW: The custom stories, or “story snippets” as I like to call them, start with 15 words chosen by a customer. I start by typing the words and saving them in a special font that seems to “go with” the specific set of words.
Many times the cluster of words suggests a general story theme. I print out the list of words and carry it with me during the day, sometimes looking at it once or twice. I jot down any story ideas that come to me.
I think of this initial phase as the “gestation” period. It’s when my unconscious mind is “working” on the story “behind the scenes” as I’m consciously focusing on something else such as my 9 to 6 day job.
The second stage of my writing process occurs in the early morning hours, when the thoughts that swirl through my mind throughout the day have been cleared out with a few solid hours of sleep.
This stage works best when I don’t think too much and I just let the writing flow. If feel that I’m getting stuck, I write whatever comes and that seems to clear out any blockages. In this stage the story emerges in it’s general form from which it changes and morphs as I write.
The words chosen by the customer guide this process; they act as a compass charting the course of the tale. Here’s an example of how it worked with my story “Belladonna”:
I was given the below cluster of chosen words:
belladonna, whisper, sangria, tangerine, spice, burgundy, downpour, cave, chandelier, secret, affair, sweater, dense, gold, shimmer
Belladonna stood out right away as a powerful word that would drive the story. Belladonna has multiple meanings; it’s a legendary poison derived from the belladonna plant and it also means “beautiful woman” in Italian. Not a word to be trifled with. Taking that and all of the words as a whole, I knew the tale would be one of danger, desire and intrigue.
You can read the story snippet that I came up with at:averyfairytale.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/belladonna/
When I feel that the story is basically complete in its rough form, I start the third stage of editing, editing, and editing.
The forth stage is simply finishing it up: sending out an email and a hard copy of the story snippet to the customer.
My materials for my handmade custom stories are: 15 words chosen by the customer, a pen, a yellow legal pad, the early morning hours, imagination, creativity, playfulness, my inner child, my inner storyteller, and the tale that wants to be told.
The materials for my hand-woven scarves are: my 15” cricket loom which fits neatly in my lap, and whatever fibers I’ve chosen for the warp and the weft.
The scarves start with the yarn selection; yarn for the vertical warp and the horizontal weft. Once I select those, I set up the loom for the approximate length of the scarf and then warp the loom by threading the yarn lengthwise across the loom. Once that is done, I wind the weft yarn around a shuttle and its ready to weave.
I find the process of weaving to be meditative with its repetitive motion and sounds. I love to see the beautiful woven fabric quickly emerge with each pass of the shuttle. It’s always somewhat of a surprise to see the pattern emerge, it always looks a bit different than I expect.
Once the weaving is complete I bind the ends, remove the scarf from the loom and finish it with a hand washing and knotting of the ends. The scarf also comes with a tale. When I’m making a scarf sometimes a scarf will suggest a tale, sometimes a tale will suggest a scarf.
PCC: What are you passionate about outside of your craft?
SJ: I love hiking and exploring new unfamiliar trails, especially if it is in a forest. I love the fictional world of fantasy & fairy tales. I’m fascinated by the mysterious world of metaphysics. I love yoga, organic food, and enjoying the natural beauty of the earth. I love spending time with my wonderful fiancé Barry.
PCC: How do we find you?
SJ: my Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/TheWeaverOfWords
I enjoy sharing my stories on my blog: averyfairytale.wordpress.com/
I love sharing my photography on Instagram @instagram.com/theweaverofwords
I sometimes tweet stuff on https://twitter.com/WeaverWordsmith
More lovely scarves from The Weaver of Words: