I have decided to combine my love of traditional textiles, felt and dyeing all in the same class this coming year and will be playing with Shibori. What is Shibori? In simple terms Shibori is a traditional Japanese textile dyeing technique, where silk fabric is tied, folded, wrapped and and then dyed, traditionally in natural dyes, creating intricate detailed patterns. The fabric for a traditional kimono would have taken a year to dye! Someone learning the traditional art of Shibori would have interned for 13 years! I started thinking again about shibori after I returned from teaching at Maiwa last month. They focus on traditional textiles, and you can actually listen and watch a podcast given during the 2007 Symposium given by Jane Callender The Intimate Stitch: Blueleaf Shibori.
There are many fiber artists today using Shibori for wearable and decorative art , some are quite famous, and have worked for years perfecting their techniques, Carter Smith, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Chad Alice Hagen to name a few.
As a studio artist and professional fiber artist, I like to keep myself fresh and excited. For me, playing with new techniques (new for me) does just that! I have not yet decided for the class whether I will do natural dyes or my bright acid dyes. I plan on dyeing felt wool scarves, not silk fabric and am leaning towards natural dyes for something different in my studio.
Not many people know that I have been dyeing wool, since I was a teen. When I was about 14 I took a course taught by Edna Blackburn, of Toronto, called Three Days in the Country. We stayed in a camp type place for three days, and did nothing but spin and dye with natural dyes. When I was 15 and 16 I got a job at the little textile craft shop that hosted Edna the year before. The shop was called the Niddy Noddy, it's owner Irene Preston Miller, a pioneer in textile crafts in the states, my mentor and boss, said upon taking my little job, if you work here you have to learn how to do everything so you can help every customer who walks in the door. When I was a bit more experienced, Irene taught me how to dye beautiful wool yarns for knitting. She created variegated dyed yarns, unique at the time (early to mid 70's at the time) I learned all about acid dying wool (and other fibers) from Irene. I bought my first spinning wheel from Irene when I was 12 years old. I had a school savings account from grade school, $80.00 saved over 8 years, when I graduated from 8th grade my parents said I could use that money for whatever I wanted, I went right down to The Niddy Noddy and bought a little Polish upright spinning wheel.
OK, I am back from reminiscing, so here are the beginnings of my playing with shibori...I tried the tying on a woolen fabric to practice. And then dyeing in a batch of logwood.
T-B: a running stitch spiral; a pleat - tied from both sides; tiny ties; large circle - orderly pleats and tied at segments; large circle - pleats were twisted then randomly bound; the whole sampler pre-dye; the pot of logwood and the swach. The finished swatch below - I will play with more folding techniques and keep posting here.
By the way, there are very special tying, patterns with specific names, kind of like a traditional quilt block pattern. We'll see how much I can learn on my own research!