Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shibori Dyeing

I tried my hand at some shibori (thread resist) dyeing this week.

I tried kanoko shibori first, which is a spotted design made by tying very small pinches of fabric with thread, and the easiest way to do it is with a hook tool to grab and hold the fabric while you wind the thread. my first tries at finding a substitute weren't great, a straight sewing pin in a clamp was the first one, and the fabric kept sliding off. A tiny crochet hook grabbed the fabric well enough, but left holes.

 Finally, I made a hook that seems to work pretty well from a bent sewing pin taped to a wooden dowel. I heated the tip (although I'm not certain if doing so actually had any effect on the outcome) and bent it with a pair of pliers. The first pin I tried to bend broke, but the second one worked. It leaves no noticeable holes as long as I don't pull too hard, and grips the fabric well. Misting the silk with water from a spray bottle (as suggested by a kanzashi artist friend of mine) helped keep the thread from slipping while I was tying it. 

 This was the second piece I did, the first was just a few scattered dots made while I tried to figure the technique out. I worked about 5 rows, the dots came out very uneven, but better than my first ones. This technique will take a lot of practice to master. I also tried two other forms of shibori a pleating technique and stitched technique on the other end of the silk. I did two stitched motifs, one of them hadtwo rows of stitches, and the other had only one. The design that had two rows of stitches came out well, but only half of the design with a single row of stitches worked. I may not have pulled the thread tight enough.

  Another technique I tried was tying seed beads into the fabric, and those dots were closer together and less defined but a bit more even. It was faster to tie, as the beads prevented the thread from slipping off. It took hours to untie, though, so I don't suppose it's actually any faster. The unevenness of the dots is hardly noticible once made into a flower, so I don't think I'd do it again for that purpose, although evenness and placement would definitely be important for anything larger. The beads do make a sharper texture than only thread wrapping when they are first untied, though. The silk had a very tight bubbly surface. I had to mist the fabric with water and stretch it a bit to see the dots. 
My husband tried some arashi shibori, that was really easy to do and I think it came out nice. I think a larger cylinder would work better next time, he used a thin one, and found out that if the silk is wrapped too many times the dye will not penetrate the layers and the pattern will only be visible on the first three wraps or so. He chose to make a handkerchief out of it, he did all the dyeing, and I hemmed it after it was unwrapped from the tube and ironed.

I also found out that washable kid's school glue mixed with a little rice paste to thicken it makes a great resist for silk! It was super easy, I used a fine tipped bottle I normally use for henna, and drew on the fabric just like paper. once it dried, I applied the dyes to the blocked off sections, let them dry, then sandwiched the piece between paper towels and steamed it for an hour over the stove to set the colors. The glue stayed firm enough to keep the dye from bleeding over when painting and steaming but it washed out easily after a few minutes of soaking in water. I would love to learn more about silk painting, I've seen some gorgeous silk painted scarves and I would like to make my own one day.

Here are some of the websites I found with shibori instruction, should anyone else want to try: 


I also made a thread-wrapped pine kanzashi (the kind sometimes seen in sakkou hairstyles) for a customer who owns a silk crane piece they wanted to pair it with. It was my first time making such a piece, and my first try wasn't very good, but I think the second one is at least decent.

That's another technique I need to practice, perhaps eventually I'll learn the trick to shaping the needles correctly while keeping the thread smooth at the same time.

Here's another recent custom order, I absolutely love the color scheme for this one, and it was a joy to work on. I was given a lot of freedom with it's design, and those are often the most enjoyable orders I get to make. The guidelines were a  medium sized piece with 5 to 7 flowers, incorporating chrysanthemums and bellflowers with bira-bira in colors to compliment a lovely grey komon with hints of blue, silver and gold.

 Here are the sketches I eventually came up with; the 7th design was chosen, with the 9th design's colors.

I am working on two hanagushi combs right now, I have completed bases made for both, and will be starting the petals tomorrow as soon as I get my house chores done and the pine kanzashi shipped to it's new owner. I've also got a box of half-finished small hydrangea, made as mock-ups for an order inquiry. I figure I'll make leaves for them, and put them on clips for my shop as soon as I have a spare moment to do it. I like hydrangea, I might keep one for myself. :)

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