Shibori dyeing & unveiling.

Sunday was the dyeing session. My uncle/painter Nick & I dyed the fabric which we had prepared in a few different shibori styles the day before. Shibori consists of a variety of traditional forms of Japanese tie-dying techniques dating back as far as the 8th century.  We read a few different recipes on how to dye with the reactive Jacquard dyes however we made it our own. Nick being a man who knows his colours and myself feeling confident in the stitching and sectioning we had done, we opted for throwing caution to the wind and winged it!

photo 1 (17)
Soaking the fabric in the soda ash water.
  • We soaked the tied fabric for 20 minutes in approx. 7 litres of soda ash warm/hot water.
  • We rung out the pieces, one by one, and lay them flat on a garbage bag.
  • One at a time, we squirted, sprayed and saturated pieces of the fabric in the dyes.
  • Some we did in solid colours (see the blue fabrics and red/pink fabrics)
  • Others we mixed the dyes to create orange (red/yellow), green (blue/yellow) and purple (red/blue) patches of colour.
  • We placed them individually in plastic wrap/bags and let them sit for 20 hours.
photo 2 (18)
Dyed and ready to be wrapped up in plastic.

Monday was the unveiling.

  • We cut the knots (note to self, rope looks mighty snazzy and authentic for working with an ancient art form however it is a real pain to cut/untie. Next time we might opt for elastic bands or better scissors!)
  • We rinsed the pieces a couple times in a tub of fresh lake water.
  • We hung all the fabric on the clothesline.

photo 3 (18) photo 1 (20) photo 4 (13)

  photo 4 (15)  photo 2 (20) photo 5 (7)

photo 4 (23)

photo 1 (28)    photo 2 (29)

I think they all came out rather lovely! 

I was really impressed with the Spiderweb Binding technique I used on the small red piece. This technique is the oldest shibori method of stitching & binding. It is known as kumo, which means spider (or cloud). Sections of the material were bound with spiralling sewing thread which makes the web and the portion left at the tip to look like the spider. (note to self, even though white thread on white fabric will be difficult to see, do not use coloured thread as it bleeds- duh! Oops!)

photo 5 (15)

There are three images on the smaller red piece (see images below) where I tried my hand at Tsujigahana, an old stitching and capping technique used to create shapes. The images are drawn and embroidered into the fabric and then gathered and tightly bound & wrapped, preventing the dye from entering the folded image. Nick had drawn an elephant and a flower which I stitched in. The elephant (#1) is difficult to see and the flower  (#2) didn’t come through well either (note to self, next time chose symmetrical images so binding will hold image). I had drawn and stitched a turtle (#3)- if you squint and turn your head to the right…well, you still don’t see it very well! 🙂

photo (18)  photo 2 (31)  photo 5 (14)

On other sections of the smaller red fabric piece & that of the yellow/orange/red piece, I used my own variation of the Karamatsu technique, a Kanoko type of shibori which is more similar to what we in the west refer to as tie-dye. Similar to the spiderweb method, this technique creates more pronounced three-ring radiating patterns. Since we were using cotton blends and not silk, I opted for tying the rings in rope instead of hand-stitching them as it held the material tighter.

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The large red fabric piece was done using the hand pleat method and bound with rope. The red dye saturated the exterior and over the course of the 20 hours seeped into the bundle of fabric in an organic fashion creating the design you see below.

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I love all the pieces however the blue fabrics have to be my favourites! Here, Nick & I wrapped and bound the fabric around a pole. We then slid the material off the pole and anchored sections with pieces of rope every 3-4 inches. It produced these beautiful linear motifs.

photo 3 (27)     photo 2 (26)

photo 3 (25)

The last two pieces we had wrapped and bound in the same fashion as the above blue fabrics but the colour selection and application was a little more laissez-faire. A pretty nod to Jerry Garcia and all DeadHeads out there!

photo 5 (18)

photo 3 (26)

photo 1 (30)

If you’d like more specific information on the process, please do not hesitate to contact me- I’d be happy to give more details!

Next up- turning these fabrics into dresses before summer ends!

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3 thoughts on “Shibori dyeing & unveiling.

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