This is my first blog post in about a month and a half, which included all of August and the first couple of weeks in September. Back in New York City, August becomes a bit of a ghost town as folks go on extended vacations and summer tourism slows down. When I worked in some of the city’s art museums, the offices would get really quiet in August. Footsteps of coworkers diminished, ringing phones fell silent and there was an overall air of heat-induced listlessness. This predictable stillness was the calm before the storm of the fall exhibition season. I guess that ebb and flow is well engrained in me. August just seemed like the right time to pause and prep.
I’ve been very busy getting the blog on track for the fall, planning out post ideas and putting systems in place to allow this thing to grow. I can’t say I’m 100% on track, but I’ve definitely gotten my act together more than before. I’m excited to start rolling out some things I’ve worked on over the summer, starting with my Shibori results from a few weeks ago.
Shibori is a Japanese design practice, which refers to a number of ways to create textile patterns by manipulating two-dimensional fabric into three-dimensional forms. The fabric is then bound, dyed and released, revealing what is known in Shibori terms as the “memory” or the impression left by the binding. The word “Shibori” comes from the Japanese root verb, Shiboru, “to wing, squeeze and press” and common methods of Shibori include crumpling, folding, wrapping, stitching and knotting.
In my first, real foray into Shibori (I played around with it a little here), I focused on four techniques, all of which are relatively easy to pull off at home with simple materials. It may be helpful to start with small samples, as I did, before moving on to a larger project. After sampling, I dyed a white sheet set using the kumo and itajime techniques.
Each of these techniques has enumerable variations. Experiment with your materials to create different results. For example, I used thread here for binding, but you can change the width of the line patterns by using rubber bands. Even with rubber bands, you can alter your results based on the width.
When using the itajime method, your folds can be square, rectangular or triangular. C-clamps and clips are useful for holding your bundle together. I didn’t have any clamps or clips, but still managed to get decent results. Indigo is the traditional dye used. However, you don’t have to stick to a navy color for your Shibori projects. I haven’t found any indigo in Riyadh. So I used a navy blue fabric dye by Marabu. The bottom line is, be resourceful about your materials and willing to experiment.
Basic supplies needed:
- Thread and/or rubber bands
- Sewing needle (for nui)
- Sticks (For kumo, I used bamboo skewers. Popsicles sticks are useful.)
- Indigo dye (Or any preferred dye, following manufacturer’s instructions)
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic drop cloth
- C-clamps, d-ring clips
- Stainless steel, extra large stockpot (for dyeing fabric)
- Flat objects for binding itajime (wooden boards, metal lids, tops of cans)
- Metal tongs (for dyeing process)