Ready to Hand: handmade with the homeless

Ready to Hand: handmade with the homeless -- the hand is the cutting edge of the mind

Ready to Hand: handmade with the homeless (RTHH) is a project of Ready to Hand: SAORI Philadelphia, teaching the homeless and those transitioning from homelessness in Philadelphia to weave and hand-print wearable and useable art.

We believe that art is a social service, and pursue visible dignity through the work of our hands.

RTH continues work begun by Arts Street Textile Studio: handmade with the homeless (ASTS), which grew out of the collaboration between the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the city’s Porchlight Initiative that produced the unique public mural, Finding Home, Finding Hope, the first mural to include textiles, all of which were woven in informal textile studios in homeless shelters across the city. Installed in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia, the Finding Home mural raises the awareness and visibility of homelessness. The dispersed shelter studios coalesced into a regular textile program at the 8th & Arch overflow shelter, which survived completion of the mural in June 2010. The program continued indoors as a demonstration project in the city’s main library, and then moved to the street, alongside a weekly food distribution line, until – as ASTS - it achieved a storefront/gallery space through a grant from the Arts on South program. With its highly visible storefront location, Arts Street Textile Studio: handmade with the homeless now offered a community-based open fiber arts studio for both homeless participants and the general community. Homeless weavers were welcomed for a nominal $1/day contribution, and proceeds from the sale of hand-made items produced in the studio were shared equally by artists and studio. ASTS closed its doors in September 2010 and continued its work in shelters, drop-in day programs and park recreation centers.

In October 2013, the homeless textile program found a new home at Ready to Hand: SAORI Philadelphia, a unique community textile gallery and studio housed in a reclaimed Philadelphia brownstone. SAORI weaving is a Japanese form of improvisational hand-weaving; accessible to everyone regardless of physical or intellectual ability, age, or artistic aptitude. SAORI’s spontaneous, “no mistakes” philosophy promotes self-acceptance and provides an opportunity for weavers to experience a sense of freedom and independence as they create visually rich textiles, making it a therapeutic art ideally suited to involvement by the homeless as well as the disabled and general communities.

RTH offers classes in SAORI weaving, traditional weaving, and indigo dyeing and textile printing, in addition to traditional textile arts. RTH also shares its gallery space, inviting community groups of all kinds to create monthly exhibits. RTH partners with community organizations to introduce SAORI weaving and its holistic philosophy to various challenged communities in the city, including homeless, disabled, recovery groups, and programs for abused women and children. As the only authorized SAORI studio and dealership in the Philadelphia region, Ready to Hand: SAORI Philadelphia will provide SAORI weaving equipment and instruction affordably to the community.

RTH’s first community project is a partnership with Pastor Violet Little and the Welcome Church on a homeless entrepreneurship venture called Welcome Threads. Welcome Threads produces two kinds of textiles: (1) T-shirts, totes and cards, hand-printed with “street wisdom” and prose and poetry created by homeless poets, and (2) hand-woven SAORI scarves, hats and totes, and clerical stoles and prayer shawls. Project workshop meetings take place in the RTH workshop spaces, where homeless participants receive weekly instruction in (1) textile printing and weaving, marketing and (2) selling products online, in the RTH gallery, and in partnership with local merchants and faith-based organizations. The Welcome Threads project is an ambitious endeavor, one which requires development of extensive community involvement and fund-raising in order to be successful. Contributions received through sponsorship by Fractured Atlas enable Ready to Hand: handmade with the homeless to expand the homeless-community partnership and realize its larger vision of raising the visibility, respect and dignity of the homeless throughout Philadelphia.

Ready to Hand: SAORI Philadelphia
731 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, by appt.

To contact us:
Leslie Sudock:
On Facebook: “Ready to Hand: Saori Philadelphia”


Sponsored since Oct 29, 2010
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