Shibori dates back to the 8th century in Japan where traditionally indigo was used to dye fabrics. There are different forms which with folding, stitching, compressing, binding and twisting the fabrics, form an array of designs and unique patterns. I adore working with silk and have been making hand painted scarves for many years. I like to explore new ways of applying dyes and came across the Arashi Shibori technique a few years ago. Arashi means storm and the patterns formed using this pole wrapped method create designs like driving rain. It is at its best when used on long pieces of cloth. Since the late 19th century, Japanese artisans working 2 together, could wrap up to four 12 yard kimonos on 12 foot poles saving a lot of work on older methods and techniques. This is perfect for silk scarves. Once I had got the gist of the process I played around with it, twisting and folding the fabric as I wrapped it, this created amazing feather like patterns. I try to keep to no more than four colours which in turn when blended will form other colours, these must be thought about too so they are all compatible.
You can use a plain white scarf if you wish and I will do that next time. Usually, I dip dye each scarf with a base colour, some will be steam fixed and some not. The ones that are steam fixed will keep patches of their colour where new dyes do not reach, the unsteamed ones will blend with the newly applied colours.
Once the base colour is applied, dried, steamed or not and pressed, it is ready for the pole wrapping stage. A length of PVC pipe is ideal as it is lightweight, waterproof and easy to clean. They come in different diameters, so you can get a few different ones to play around with, the length shouldn’t be less than 60cms, up a meter is better. If you have really long fabric then longer is better. You can use cotton string, sisal or wire, be careful the wire is soft or it may damage the fabric when you scrunch it up along the length of pipe. Cotton string will absorb some of the dye, so maybe try a nylon one for a different outcome. How close together you wrap the string will determine how close together your stripes and also how evenly spaced will make a more random design. It is all about experimenting and having some fun with the pleasure of an unexpected gorgeous outcome. I get really excited when it’s time to unwrap the pole and see the result. You can choose to go a step further then and once steamed, rinsed and pressed, you may wish to rewrap the scarf in the opposite direction to get a completely different design effect.
I use H Dupont professional steam fixable dyes, their range is vibrant and always produce fabulous scarves. There are other acid dyes out there but these are preferred by many. I have also been playing around with dying cotton lace, and chancing my arm at some nylon lace bits too, some silk tops and merino wool. I will add some images in my next post.
As always, post your comments and questions below.