Zoom on … the shibori technique
An ancestral Japanese dyeing technique
He has been a big hit in the fashion and decoration world for several months now. Shibori is a dyeing technique from Japan that consists of knotting, twisting, folding or sewing a fabric before bathing it in a bath of natural dye. The result is sublime and delicate patterns that adorn the fabrics of the linen. We tell you more about this Japanese dyeing technique that reminds us of the tie and die technique.
A Japanese dyeing technique
Shibori is an ancestral dyeing technique originating from Japan. It comes from the term ‘shiboru’, translated from Japanese as ‘twisting, pressing’. The oldest cloth dyed with this technique dates back to the 8th century and corresponds to the goods donated by the emperor Shōmu to the Tōdai-ji temple in Nara. Originally, shibori was mainly used to adorn the costumes of the Samurai and kimonos of the Edo period.
Traditionally, shibori is used on natural fiber fabrics such as silk, hemp and – more recently – cotton. To colour these fabrics, a natural vegetable dye is used: indigo. The patterns created are reminiscent of a tie and dye type effect and can take on particular shapes: geometric, graphic, aquatic, organic, etc.
The different methods
As you have understood, prints made with the shibori technique are made possible by making knots, twists, folds and stitching on the fabric. Then simply plunge the fabric into a bath of water and indigo to dye it and finish by rinsing it with clear water. There are several shibori techniques. All of them allow you to create different patterns and prints:
this is the most widespread and easiest shibori folding method for a first experience at home. Simply pinch and fold the fabric with elastic bands and then soak it in a basin of indigo. A variation of this technique, the ne-maki shibori, consists of tying the fabric with balls or small stones.
for this technique, a hook must be used. Indeed, the idea is to pinch the fabric by wrapping a loop of thread around it, using a hook. The thread should not knot the fabric but the tension of the latter allows to realize light and poetic patterns .
similar to spider webs, the patterns created by this method are made possible by folding the fabric evenly before tying it. This technique is more difficult because it is more meticulous and requires precision for a successful result!
this method requires a certain mastery of sewing. In fact, you have to pass a loosely thrown stitch thread through the fabric before tightening it firmly (to ensure a good tension of the fabric when dyeing it) and knot each thread. The patterns obtained are, one could not be more delicate! For this method, patience and rigour are required!
for this technique, you need a pole or a stick. Indeed, this tool must allow you to wrap the fabric diagonally, to hold it firmly around it and to pack it all the way down to obtain pleated prints. Arashi’ is translated from the Japanese as ‘storm’ because the resulting patterns are reminiscent of the slanting rain that is typical of this weather phenomenon.
to use this technique, solid materials must be used to hold the fabric in place and prevent all areas of the fabric from being dyed. Traditionally, wooden slabs are used, between which the fabric is held in place with knotted strings. Nowadays, the method has been modernised and it is easier to use plastic (Plexiglas) sheets and to hold the fabric in place with clamps or elastic bands.
Whichever method is chosen, shibori must be practiced on natural fibre fabrics that have not undergone any chemical treatment!