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'Shibori' includes the purest of ancient dots, the vibrantly complex 'T' shirts of the 60's, the scrunched and sculptural surfaces of synthetic and modern fabrics.

The Japanese verb 'shiboru' describes actions worked with force and pressure,  such as 'squeeze' and 'wring out' ie a wet towel, to milk a cow, to press a person for information etc. 'Shibori' the noun, is the word for the traditional resist dyed patterned textiles of Japan created by these actions. Nowadays it includes the effects of those actions whether they are evident through the application of colour, as a resisted mark or as a physical sculptured characteristic. Now the accepted umbrella term for all the skills which were, and are, referred to as 'tie and dye', also includes other lesser known methods. The word 'Shibori' embraces the resist dyed textiles marked by a wealth of imaginative shibori techniques found all over the world. Traditional shibori includes the Adire cloth of Africa, Indian Bandhani, Plangi and Tritik of Malaya, the fabrics of Japan, and of China.

In the main cloth is kept open and/or flat and still for pattern to be applied in the form of a print paste, by means of a block or screen, or through hand painting techniques. With shibori however, the patterning process is quite different, with fabric being moved, twisted and turned. The various preparations result in the tight compression of fabric which is then secured in its ‘scrunched up’ state prior to dyeing. This influences the flow or prevents the dye from marking the fabric altogether. How we choose to manipulate and then imprison the cloth precipitates the unique and distinct pattern markings that are characteristic of shibori resists. The flow and uptake of dye is the result of a personal and direct ‘hands on’ process and reflect the personal touch and dexterity of the maker. In working cloth the shibori practitioner is not distanced from cloth but intimately engaged with it and the actions performed are as much 'shibori' as the finished item.

Traditional shibori techniques include stitch resist; wrapping the fabric to a central support such as a pole, cylinder or rope; binding and capping; board clamping and each of these give very different and distinctive markings. Within these main shibori techniques any number of variations can be found to effect traditional, contemporary and innovative shibori textile art. There is no limit as to how they can be used or how the individual interprets 'shibori.'

The contorted forms of cloth born out of the shibori process have inspired textile artists and fashion designers to develop the transforming abilities of shibori for many years. Cloth, in retaining the forms forced upon it after restrictions are removed, offers futuristic textures and ethereal sculpted forms. But shibori does not forget its history, for at the same time it speaks clearly of its traditional roots - of simple mark making, of the delight in observation, decoration and pattern, and of the need to communicate.

The changing image shows two outcomes of a stitched shibori piece. The same motif shape was used for both.

One results in an indigo shibori resist,

the other its sculptural equivalent.

 

Simply press the pause button to hold the image.

 

Recommended reading:-

Shibori. The inventive art of Japanese shaped resist dyeing.

Wada, Rice, Barton

 

 

 

A wonderful example of Japanese kanoko shibori.

(fine binding) Indigo on silk. John Gillow collection.

Undoing a stitched shibori piece. Indigo on silk.