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Nov 06

Shibori: A Shaped Resist Cloth

Shibori is a Japanese word referring to the various types of embellishing cloth by shaping it and binding it before dyeing. In my last writing on this subject, I explained the various types of bound and sewn resists. Let’s look at specific examples of Japanese shibori techniques:

Kanoko, or fawn dot, shibori produces a pattern resembling the spots on a fawn or bound squares. The fabric is tightly bound with fine floss in small patterns and then dyed.
Kumo shibori produces a spider-web effect. The fabric is pulled into a narrow cone shape, thread tightly wound from the base to the tip and back down, then dyed.
Mokume, or wood grain, shibori is made by sewing parallel running stitches across the width of the cloth, gathering tightly, and dyeing.

But there is one shibori technique that has haunted me for years—arashi meaning “storm”.

Arashi Shibori
Arashi shibori was an innovation created by Kanezo Susuki of Arimatsu, Japan. Born into a shibori-making family, when he was 43 years old he devised a way to create an allover pattern. Using a diagonal orientation of fabric and pole wrapping in various combinations, he immersed the pole into a long vat of dye. (Arimatsu has long since been known as the shibori-producing center in Japan.)  In this traditional shibori craft video from Japan, you can see the arashi shibori process in the first two minutes. Watch it here. 

In all the years of scheduling the programs for the Textile Arts Centre in Chicago, there was only one artist workshop I attended—it was Ana Lisa Hedstrom’s course on Arashi Shibori, and it was indeed worth the creative investment. Ana Lisa has been at the forefront of arashi shibori since the 70s during which she spent two years exploring Asian textile traditions throughout Southeast Asia and studying under Yoshika Iwamoto Wada at the Fiberworks Center for Textile Arts in Berkeley. She continues in her pursuit of arashi, and over the past few years Studio Galli produced her video “Arashi Shibori: A Language of Stripes”. Watch a clip of Ana Lisa and arashi shibori here.

Techniques for Creating Arashi Shibori
A simple explanation of creating the pole-wrapped resist is wrap the pole with a natural-fiber cloth such as cotton or silk; wind a resist material, such as string or dental floss, tightly around the pole in a straight or diagonal pattern; compress the fabric while wrapping the resist; when finished, tie off the string. It’s then ready for the dye process.

The fabric can be wrapped straight or diagonally, flat, folded, or as a tube that has been stitched to the circumference of the pole. The circumference of the pole should be in proportion to the width of the fabric.

It’s many years later and while studio time is elusive, arashi shibori still calls to me. So while you’re reading this blog, I am in Japan winding my way to the heart of shibori–Arimatsu. And for (sadly) only one day, I will be in the birthplace taking a workshop. My ClothRoads partner Linda Stark and I are going to attempt our first-ever blog while on location. So look for it on Nov 14 or thereabouts.

Meanwhile, satiate yourself with these new shibori scarves from Ock Pop Tok of Laos. They’ve started their own version of arashi shibori. We have many fine examples of Japanese shibori in the ClothRoads store.

As with all my blogs, I hope you’ve learned more about the richness of culture and history through textiles. If you have, please share this with others. By sharing the artisans’ stories and traditions, we all do our part in sustaining the future of heritage textiles.

For additional resources, refer to:
Book: Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2002. Author:Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada.
Book: Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped-Resist Dyeing, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1983. Authors: Mary Kellogg Rice, Jane Barton, Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada.
Organization: World Shibori Network   www. shibori.org

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