Shibori Workshop

Shibori is a Japanese manual tie-dyeing technique that produces more complex interesting patterns than tie-dye. In the workshop, we used the work of Siân Martin to use the Shibori technique to create textured fabric by wrapping the fabric and steaming it. I first tried to create some of the cockle shapes that Martin created in her work. I wrapped marbles, beads, and buttons tightly under the fabric to make the ball shapes. I wanted my round clusters to resemble cells in various stages of growth, so I made some clusters and some cells on their own.

The next technique I tried to add texture to the fabric was the more traditional Shibori technique of Arashi, which is the Japanese word for storm. I love the texture this pattern has created, and it gave the fabric a more stretchy feel. The pink sample didn’t work as well because I experimented with folding it diagonally instead of folding it in half and half again. The texture is not on all of the fabric, only on some areas, which I do quite like, and I also like the way the dye has dispersed through the fabric and made the edges quite feather-like. If I were to do the technique again, I would experiment with more colours, possibly adding patterns onto the fabric before wrapping it up.

I also tested out another Shibori technique called Kumo, which means cloud in Japanese. I fully submerged this in dye to get a block colour on the fabric. This technique created the most texture, and I think this would look very effective on a garment, maybe on a skirt to give it a crumpled chucked on look. I took the rubber bands out quite early after I steamed it, so the texture could have been a lot more prominent if I had left it to dry completely.

I also tried out Itajime, not for the texture but for the pattern it might create. In Shibori, you should use wooden blocks to stop the in from penetrating the fabric. I didn’t have any, so I improvised with a wedge of cardboard just as an experiment. I tried two different folds, square and triangle. You can see the cardboard did not stop the dye from penetrating the fabric, which I thought might happen. Although the technique didn’t work, the samples both have a lovely pattern. The green sample reminds me of a leaf cell under the microscope, and the blue sample looks like a heat sensor photo. If I did this again, I would buy a Shibori kit and re-do all the techniques to get a pattern instead of a texture.

Siân Martin

Siân Martin interview: The love of stitch -
81 Shibori / 3D ideas | shibori, fabric manipulation, how to dye fabric

Siân Martin is a textile artist from the UK. She uses wrapping, threading, binding and looping as well as conventional stitches. Martin also uses unconventional threads such as wires, canes and willow to add texture to her pieces. The first example of her work is a piece inspired by and using one of her mother’s designs of a cockle gatherer. This work is especially poignant as Martin made it shortly after her mother’s death. I think the meshing of two generations of art is heartwarming and shows how the definition of art has changed through the eras. Her mother made a direct drawing of the cockle gatherers to convey the subject, and Martin has used cockles in Shibori to make cockle shapes on the fabric itself. I think having a print on the material before applying Shibori is really effective, and I might use this in my final piece, adding Shibori onto my printed fabric.

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