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Sketchbook: Learn about shibori, Japan's version of tie-dye


- Shibori is a Japanese form of tie-dye. You take fabric and twist it, tie it, fold it, or even stitch it to make patterns and pictures. Tie-dye around the world has a lot of commonalities. There's a lot of methods that look very similar to Japanese tie-dye but what really makes Japanese tie-dye unique is the stitched shibori. 

I start out by doing my own patterns, drawing a picture and tracing it onto the fabric with chalk or a culture's pin I take my needle and my thread and I stitch along that pattern and they actually call that orinui. Once I have all the stitching in, I start tightening things. 

This is a resist method of dyeing which means that I have to provide the resistance to the dye some more and that's caused by pulling the fabric tight enough that it puckers. And sits against itself and the dye just simply can't work in between the creases and the small crevices that I've learned by just simply pulling on the thread. This takes a while because it has to be really tight. 

Once everything's tightened, I start the dye process. If I'm just going for blue and white which is a very traditional shibori color, I mix up my blue dye and I dye the fabric by dropping in into the dye pot and letting it cure. 

Once everything is done dyeing, I've got this mass of really wet fabric. I get it washed out, hang it up, let it dry, once it's dry, I can start pulling threads out. So I start pulling on ends and snipping the knots and as I snip, I start pulling things out. From my point of view, it's like Christmas morning, it's always this giant surprise of how things have turned out. 

I make kind of a variety of things. I've got framed art that are color or pictures or patterns that I really liked. I've got what are called noren which are Japanese door curtains so you see 'em like at sushi restaurants or sometimes in movies, they're very traditional to both shops and houses in Japan. They'll have bamboo patterns. I've got one that's got heart patterns, mountains, I made an exploding volcano one time. I made a nautilus another time, that was fun, and it had tentacles going absolutely everywhere. 

I chose shibori as an art form because it fits very perfectly what I like to do, what I'm good at, and what makes me happy.