Indigo Shibori

This week we are exploring indigo dyeing and shibori in a workshop in Byron Bay. An enthusiastic group is meeting to learn about various shibori techniques. Susan Fell Mclean is the tutor, with a wealth of knowledge and a teaching style that engages participants and makes the complex techniques of shibori accessible. Its hard to say which has the more intrigue – the shibori or the indigo. Some of the participants have attended Susan’s classes prior to this week, and will take on more advanced challenges. This use of indigo always hold surprises and intrigue. Together the indigo and the shibori techniques are advanced yet simple in principle, and together they create unique beauty. The concluding hour of any one of these workshops is always exciting, when each bundle is opened out to reveal fascinating and complex patterns.

Encompassing endless possibilities of shaping fabric to resist the indigo dye, shibori is a fascinating genre of art. There is a growing enthusiam worldwide for this art form, and while traditional techniques reach back through history many centuries, the contemporary use of shibori is expressive and exciting. Shibori is used by designers of wearbales and by artists for sculptural works and two dimensional wall art.

Shaping can begin with pleating and folding, followed by board clamping as in the Itajime process. This technique, with infinite folding and boards or different shape as well as the variables of placement of the boards prior to clamping, the pattern potential of Itajiime, is for ever intriguing. Susan suggests that the clamps be screwed down very tightly, then the boards tied. by removal of the clamps prior to immersion in the dye, the clamps are immediately made available for others in the group to use, at the same time preventing clamps from rusting.

Arashi is the pole wrapping technique of shibori, where by fabric is wrapped around a circular pole – polypipe, and tied tightly with cotton string. This technique allows for many variables of the ‘storm’ appearance from which the name ‘arashi’ is derived. If the fabric is silk, and if the arashi is left till completely dry (about 3-4 days), the arashi shibori lines may become quite three dimensional and permanent. Silk organza is particularly good, having enough weight to retain significant pleats.

Nui shibori is an overall term for stitched shibori. A whole range of stitch types and resulting patterns with equal intrigue. Participants in this week’s “All Blues – indigo shibori” workshop will produce a large smapler with a variety of nui shibori patterns. They then have a choice of applying any of these techniques to scarves – crepe de chine and paj silk. Participants will work on cotton and wool as well as silk.

Now as far as the Indigo part of this workshop, it can be guaranteed that there will be surprises and thrills – all blues. It might be better to wait for the photos, because the depth of the blue and its contrast to the white patterns are yet to be known. Indigo is an intriguing dye, with many things effecting the actual colour achieved on the day. So lets wait and see!