My mom was from Japan, but I grew up in the USA, so I really did not pay much attention to my Japanese heritage until I got way older...now, I can't seem to learn things about Japan fast enough!
What I am really interested in are the traditional arts and crafts...I have done quite a lot of origami
(paper folding), made a lot of things from kimono fabrics, and of course, Japanese cooking. I must admit that I love textiles and love to sew. What better combo than to make my own fabric for sewing projects?
So, here is what I hope is a fairly simple and fun tutorial on how I design and dye my fabrics using shibori techniques. I am NOT an expert, so this is more my own journey of learning and doing...
1. I used the book, Shibori for Textile Artists, as my inspiration as well as my basic "how to" guide...I also ordered an indigo dye kit on the internet..there are some pretty easy instructions in the box along with everything you need to begin dyeing right away. I have tried Ritz navy dye, but it just does not give the right blue for me...and warning: indigo dye really stinks...I mean, REALLY stinks...don't let anyone use your bathroom while you are dyeing or they might die from the combined smells!
You will also need a 5 gallon bucket, a small bucket to hold dyed items, wooden pieces, a pole or pvc pipe, a spoon or stirrer, gloves, and a clothespin for your nose.
2. The dye kit I use makes enough dye to do a lot--like 15 pounds worth of fabric. To give you an idea, I dyed 4 t-shirts, three silk blouses, two silk scarves, six cotton napkins, lace, seven yards of fabric, some beads, and a sweater (fail!) and had to throw the leftovers away after three days. Indigo dye will keep for about 5 days if you can stand the smell...you must cover the bucket!
So, gather what you want to dye. Natural fibers are best, but the lace I dyed was polyester and did fine:
3. You now need to prepare your items for any designs. I only wanted patterns on my fabrics so I did several different techniques. They all have special names but you can learn about those on your own.
I used rubber bands and strings to make different kinds of circles:
This one also has a small marble in the tip. Let's call it SAMPLE #1.
This one is just rubber bands, SAMPLE #2.
The one on the left, SAMPLE #3, is folded and then placed between two pieces of wood and tied tightly. The one on the right, SAMPLE #4, is folded and tied all over the place.
This is what I know to mean "shibori"...the fabric is wrapped around a pole, string is wrapped all around, then the fabric is scrunched down, SAMPLE #4:
Put all your prepared good in the box and head to your dyeing station (my pink bath tub!).
You will see that I also left some fabric plain, scrunched some into some plastic netting, and tried tying some into knots.
4. Prepare the dye, following the instructions in the kit or book...indigo dye needs to "bloom"...what this means is that a sort of foam flower will appear when it is ready...it looks as nasty as it smells...my hands and tub turned blue, but the tub is being replaced, and well, blue hands are kinda cool...
5. Start dipping and dyeing! The dye is reactive to air, so be careful not to splash or cause air bubbles. When you take your pieces out, they will look green or very light...it takes about 20 minutes for the blue to appear...you can keep dipping until you get the color you want. I do very light indigo, 1-3 dips, medium indigo, 3-5 dips, very dark indigo, 6-8 dips. It is a long process, having to wait between dips!
6. Here you will see the various changes happening...it is very exciting!
As you dye, more foam will appear...it can affect your piece and make a pattern. I like the surprise so I leave it...you can skim it off with your gloved hands if you like.
That's about all there is to it! For longer pieces, like the pole shibori, I use a wallpaper tray and dip the entire pole in the tray.
Want to see what you get?
Sample #1...the marbles and rubber bands:
Sample #2...rubber bands in two spots:
Sample #3...wooden blocks...if the blocks are heart shaped, you would get heart shaped white areas...this one is really fun! I got stars that I want to do next...you can get these shapes at most craft stores. See the upper left hand corner?...you might get some leakage, but, hey, if it is suppose to be perfect, go buy machine made, right?
Sample #4...traditional pole wrapping shibori. I love this one because it looks like the patterns in sand when waves recede on the beach. You will never get two identical patterns no matter how many times you do this one. It is a favorite.
Remember the netting one? Here is how it turned out! What a surprise!
And, then here is the rest using various scrunched up patterns I made up:
If you have any questions or want to share your own experience in this type of dyeing, fire away! I had a blast and even though it was a bit of work, I am happy to have these fabrics and to share them with some of my craftster buddies!
Thanks for looking!
oh--I almost forgot! Bonus: You can save the string that you used in your projects! Nice for wrapping packages or using in mixed media art projects, quilting, etc. YAY!