Tuesday, January 24, 2017

{Guest Post} Shibori: the Art of Japanese Indigo Tie-Dying by Larissa Reinhart

Shibori: the Art of Japanese Indigo Tie-Dying by Larissa Reinhart

I wanted to do a post about Japanese crafts, but you know what? There are so many, I had  to narrow it down to one. Crafts are so popular over here. Kids begin learning origami in preschool. There’s a plethora to choose from, from felting to amigurumi (crocheted animals) to kimono cloth dolls. I’m living in Nagoya where there are three huge traditional craft industries: glass making, pottery, and shibori: indigo tie-dying.

I thought I’d talk about Shibori because my artist heroine in the Cherry Tucker mystery series loves to DIY her clothing and accessories, from using puff paint to bedazzling to tie-dying. I think she’d get a kick out of Japanese tie-dying because it’s an amazing art form and still handcrafted today.

The little town of Arimatsu has been enveloped within the city of Nagoya but still retained a lot of traditional buildings. It was settled in the 1600s and part of the famous Tokaido road, linking Kyoto to Edo, the old and new capitols during the Shogun era. Arimatsu became famous for selling their dye-art towels to travelers and they’re still making fabrics for everything from kimonos to scarves today.

Shibori are traditionally dyed with indigo and still handcrafted. The various patterns come from different tying including: embroidery, pleating, looped binding, pole wrapping, rolled, and tying with thread (or a combination of these).

When my family visited Arimatsu, we let our daughters take a Shibori class. As you can see in the picture, there’s an ink that washes out showing the pattern they’ll use.

For the flower’s leaves, they were taught a simple running stitch: one thread per leaf that’s pulled tight, looped, and tied. This is called Nui Shibori.

The dots on the outside were pulled up, looped and tied with cotton thread, Kaneko Shibori. The Shibori craftsman can do this so well, it creates a tiny stippling effect.

To try this at home, you could use dressmaker’s chalk or a cloth pen to create your own pattern on white cotton cloth. Try the running stitch or the Kaneko-style tying.

Use one white cotton thread per shape.

Knot the end as you would normally for a running stitch and after stitching around the pattern(s), pull the thread until the material bunches. Wrap your thread tightly at the base three times, then wrap up to the top of the bunch (you’ll see in the picture it creates a kind of long, skinny spindle). Wrap the thread twice tightly at the top, then wrap back around to the base and twice more around the base. To knot, extend your middle and wring finger from the hand holding the cloth. Wrap the thread under and over the two fingers and then through. Pull tightly and do this once more.

For the dot effect, pinch and pull up a piece of material and follow the same pattern above: wrap three times at the bottom, around to the top, twice at the top, back to the base, twice around the base, and make the knots.

Remember to pull tightly as possible when doing this! Follow normal dying techniques using whatever dye you like.

Thanks for having me on, Michelle! It’s fun to share this traditional craft with your readers.

A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and Maizie Albright Star Detective series. The sixth mystery, A Composition in Murder, releases November 15th and the Maizie Albright mystery debut, 15 Minutes, on January 24, 2017. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but they still call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode.
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When ex-teen star Maizie Albright returns to her Southern hometown of Black Pine, Georgia, she hoped to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid and reality show hell for a new career as a private investigator. Instead, Hollyweird follows her home. Maizie’s costar crushing, but now for her gumshoe boss. Her stage-monster mother still demands screen time. Her latest rival wants her kicked off the set, preferably back to a California prison.

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Anonymous said...

Michelle, Thanks so much for having me on! I'm so glad I can share this beautiful Japanese craft with your readers!

Briarose said...

wow! I had no idea it was still done by hand, a genuine art for sure. I taught the Brownies to tye dye shirts one year. They had an absolute blast!
Thanks Michelle for the awesome guest post.

Jessica said...

Beautiful work. I haven't done any tie dying since I was a kid but love the look of Shibori.

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing info on Shibori. I have seen this technique on the web before, but I haven't done any dying (tie-dying!) for decades.

Celia Fowler said...

I used to tie dye t-shirts a long time ago, twisting the fabric and using rubber bands. I love the stitching method of the shibori, and I'm sure the indigo dye is much richer than rut dyes. This post was so interesting--thanks for sharing!

Barbara T. said...

Fascinating and lovely. Your girls are getting a wonderful educational experience.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the comments! One of the cool things about this technique is the puckering that's left from the tight tying. I bought my daughters little silk bags that are expandable because of this technique. They're hand size until you stretch them out, then they expand to about book size. Great for stuffing in a purse when you need an extra bag! They also use this technique on clothes and decorative items, too.

Mary said...

Wow! What an amazing art! Thanks so much for sharing about this wonderful technique. The only time I've gotten close to this process is tie dyeing t-shirts with kids. So much fun!

Anonymous said...

Mary, it is pretty amazing what they can do! Some of the art work is incredible, they look like paintings. I can't believe it's all done using this method.


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