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Farida Gupta Blogs
Having been part of the clothing industry for a while now, we have come to a reassuring conclusion that creativity knows no bounds. While evaluating cultural inheritances from around the world, one is sure to stumble upon the hugely popular and transcendent Shibori printing technique.
Shibori is widely considered to be one of the oldest Indigo dying techniques in Japan, most popular in the early Edo period when lower class people were forbidden from wearing silk. It is an age-old Japanese dye-printing technique, dating back to the 7th century. The term finds its origin from the Japanese verb shiboru, meaning “to wring, squeeze, press.” Most of the Japanese shibori fabrics were made using a beautiful indigo-blue colour on cotton cloth.
Unique patterns are created by twisting, folding, stitching and binding fabric using string, rubber bands, clamps, wooden blocks etc. The use of these contraptions prevents areas from being saturated with dye, while the rest of the untied regions take up the colour of the dye that the cloth is dipped in; thereby giving stunning contrasting shades to the fabric.
The same dying technique, if repeated, will always create stunning, unique designs. The subtle nuances that emerge are the mysterious beauty of shibori. The only limitation to the types of designs possible to be achieved is the imagination of the person engaging in this technique. In other words, the number of combinations one can make by this printing technique is limitless.
While the credit for its genesis has is given to the rich Japanese culture, similar techniques have been prevalent in other parts of the world as well. In fact, over the years, the increasing popularity of the shibori has given rise to various local, indigenous versions, giving it a worldwide footprint.
There are various forms of the Shibori technique. Let's briefly walk through them.
1. KANOKO SHIBORI
Kanoko shibori is the most popular technique. It is commonly referred to as “tie-dye". This technique involves binding a certain few sections of the cloth to achieve the desired pattern. The pattern that is ultimately achieved depends on how tight, and from where the fabric is bound. Circular shapes are usually obtained with this technique.
2. MUIRA SHIBORI
Muira shibori is also known as looped binding. It involves taking a hooked needle and plucking sections of the cloth and looping thread around each section twice. It is important to note that in this technique, the thread is not knotted; the only thing that holds the parts in place is the tension from the thread. Since no knot is used, Muira shibori is very easy to bind and unbind. Therefore, this technique is widely used. The final pattern is a water-like design.
3. KUMO SHIBORI
Kumo shibori involves the careful and meticulous process of pleating the cloth and then binding it in place. This technique is practised very evenly in an elegant manner. Owing to its relatively easy control, it can achieve some very specific designs.
4. NUI SHIBORI
Nui shibori involves stitched shibori. A simple running stitch is used on the cloth then pulled tight to gather it. The thread must be pulled very tight to work, and a wooden dowel is used in order to pull it tight enough. As a result, each thread is secured by knotting before being dyed. Often involving a laborious, time-consuming process, this technique allows for greater control of the pattern and greater variety of pattern.
5. ARASHI SHIBORI
Commonly referred to as pole-wrapping shibori, Arashi shibori is one of the more widely practised techniques of shibori. The cloth is wrapped on a diagonal around a pole. Then the cloth is very tightly bound by wrapping thread up and down the pole. The next step requires the cloth to be scrunched on the pole. The result of this technique is a pleated cloth with a design on a diagonal. The name ‘Arashi’ comes from the Japanese word for storm. The patterns are always on a diagonal in Arashi shibori, which suggests the driving rain of a heavy storm.
6. ITAJIME SHIBORI
Itajime shibori refers to a shaped-resist technique, in which the cloth is sandwiched between two pieces of wood, which are held in place with string. Modern textile artists use shapes cut from acrylic which can warp over time. The shapes prevent the dye from penetrating the fabric they cover.
These different techniques are slight variations of the same Shibori technique, that offer different but stunning results nevertheless. That’s all for now, Sayonara!
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