Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing.The word comes from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” Although shibori is used to designate a particular group of resist-dyed textiles, the verb root of the word emphasizes the action performed on cloth, the process of manipulating fabric. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional surface, with shibori it is given a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting. Cloth shaped by these methods is secured in a number of ways, such as binding and knotting. It is the pliancy of a textile and its potential for creating a multitude of shape-resisted designs that the Japanese concept of shibori recognizes and explores. The shibori family of techniques includes numerous resist processes practiced throughout the world.
Shibori – A Definition
Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” Although shibori is used to designatc a particular group of resist-dyed textiles, the verb root of the word emphasizes the action performed on cloth, the process of manipulating fabric. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional surface, with shibori it is given a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting. Cloth shaped by these methods is secured in a number of ways, such as binding and knotting. It is the pliancy of a textile and its potential for creating a multitude of shape-resisted designs that the Japanese concept of shibori recognizes and explores. The shibori family of techniques includes numerous resist processes practiced throughout the world.
Shibori is used as an English word throughout this book because there is no English equivalent. In fact, most languages have no term that encompasses all the various shibori techniques, nor is there English terminology for individual methods, which often have been incorrectly lumped together as “tie-and-dye.” Three terms for separate shibori methods have come into international usage: plangi, a Malay-lndonesian word for the process of gathering and binding cloth; bandy an Indian term for the same Process; and tritik, a Malay-lndonesian word for stitch-resist. However, these three terms represent only two ofthe major shibori techniques. In this context, the word shibori seems the most useful term for the entire group of shaped resist textiles. It is the hope of the authors that “shibori” will win acceptance in the international textile vocabulary.
The special characteristic of shibori resist is a soft- or blurry-edged pattern. The effect is quite different from the sharp-edged resist obtained with stencil, paste, and wax. With shibori the dyer works in concert with the materials, not in an effort to overcome their limitations but to allow them full expression. And, an element of the unexpected is always present.
All the variables attendant on shaping the cloth and all the influences that control the events in the dye vat or pot conspire to remove some of the shibori process from human control. An analogy is that of a potter firing a wood-burning kiln. All the technical conditions have been met, but what happens in the kiln may be a miracle or a disaster. Chance and accident also give life to the shibori process, and this is its special magic and strongest appeal.
Some of the basic Shibori techniques:
Miura Shibori – named after a Doctor’s wife who brought the technique to Arimatsu from Shikoku. Whereas most Shibori is made by tying knots around points of material, Miura Shibori consists of looped binding, keeping out less dye. It produces softer effects and is much cheaper. Commonly used for common clothes like yukata.
Arashi Shibori (“storm” Shibori). A length of cloth is folded and wrapped around a four-meter pole. The folding method produces a storm-like effect of lines and dashes, hence the name.
Kumo Shibori (“spider web” Shibori). Arimatsu is famous for the quality of its handmade Kumo Shibori. While it is possible to produce a highly regular spider-web pattern by machine, artisans in Arimatsu are renowned for the regularity of their hand-made kumo Shibori.
Nui Shibori – (“stitched” Shibori). The material is sewn to form the pattern before dyeing.
Suji Shibori – hand folded over a rope core in a similar fashion to arashi Shibori, then bound and dyed. The material is then dyed, dried, and then carefully untied. The untying is one of the most important phases – it is vital not to distort the material or the entire piece and months of work are ruined. Finally, the material is steamed and stretched to remove creases.
What is Shibori?
Introducing a Japanese tie-dying technique (in the words of a Japanese shibori artist)
When foreigner think tie-dye, they visualize huge, random blotches of bright color on cotton, reminiscent of the 1960’s styles. When foreigner think of Japan, they usually think of Mount Fuji, Geishas, Samurai and kimono. Once stationed in Japan, however, the stereotype images change.
Shibori is a type of dyeing in which certain areas on the cloth are reserved from dyeing by binding dots or stitching. There are about 15 different kinds of tie-dye techniques. Each technique is so difficult that one can not master all of them in a lifetime.
There are many steps to follow: After designing the pattern of the cloth, the artisan must draw thousads of tiny dots
which follow the pattern. Each dot must then be bound by thread to separate that piece of the 150,000 binding dots are needed to finish a short-sleeve kimono. This process takes at least a year to complete, depending on the design. When the fabric is completely bound, the material must be bleached to remove stains. Finally the fabric is dyed, which becomes a more complex process with each added color. When the dyed material is dry, the strings which bound it are removed. At that time, we usually tore the fabric. Then we sell the toned cloth at an unbelievably low price.
Shibori made in kyoto is done by hand on silk material. Not a single shibori comes out the same. I am a member of shibori artisans. And at 30 is the youngest. Most of them are in their 70’s and 80’s. The serious problem we face right now is the aging of the artisans. And second problem is expanding the channel of customers to keep the art of shibori going. So we are working on the work of “the cultural heritage of the world” and “a famous picture (example the Mona Lisa) “by shibori technique. It takes 2 year to complete with 40 artisans working in their spare time. “This way, we have something we can leave for our descendants which carries forth the traditional of our ancestors.”
The development of the relatively newly established field of “wearable art” overlaps with that of shibori, which offers unprecedented potential in creating a wide range of textures on cloth. The rich sensuous colors and pliability of the material respond well to the movement and flow of the body. The works now attract creative individuals, celebrities, and collectors; and wearable art expression has established its place between high fashion and art in North America.
World Shibori Network