Shibori

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.

Background

Tie-dyeing has evolved in many cultures around the world, and can be seen on fabrics made thousands of years ago in Latin America, Africa, India, China and around Asia. It entered Japan at least 1300 years ago from China, along with the Chinese style of dress, and was interpreted in a particularly Japanese fashion. The basic technique of Arimatsu Shibori is to draw a design on a piece of fabric (usually silk or cotton), then to tie very tight knots with thread around points of the fabric. The fabric is then dyed; since the dye does not penetrate the knots, when they are untied there is a pattern of dyed and undyed areas. This can be repeated many times to produce patterns of various colours.

Shibori was originally an art of the poor. In feudal Japan, many people could not afford to buy expensive fabrics like cotton or silk, so clothes were often made of cheap hemp fabrics. People could not afford to replace clothes regularly either, so they would repair and redye them, and the art of Shibori evolved as a means of making old clothes look new. Under the Tokugawa peace, many different arts flourished, and many different techniques and local forms of Shibori emerged. Shibori developed along two separate paths: as the method of decorating the silk used for producing kimonos for the aristocracy of Japan (largely carried out in Kyoto), and as a folk art differing from region to region.

One of the most famous locations for Shibori in Japan is Arimatsu in Nagoya. When he united Japan, the first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu of Okazaki, moved the capital of Japan to Edo (now Tokyo). Ieyasu required that all the Daimyo or feudal lords travelled to Edo every other year to swear allegiance to him, and established 53 stations on the road between Osaka and Edo for them to rest during the journey. To ensure their safety, he encouraged the foundation of villages around these stations, one of which was Arimatsu, the forty-second station on the Tokaido, which was settled in 1608 by eight families.

While building a castle in Nagoya for his son, Ieyasu used workers from all over Japan. One group from Oita brought with them the techniques of Shibori, and the local families developed the technique to produce the particular beauty of Arimatsu Shibori. Travellers along the Tokaido road would buy cloths and towels made by the people of Arimatsu.

During the samurai period, the merchant class was relatively powerless, and it seems that they spent large amounts of money on various recreational activities, including buying elaborate kimonos which served to boost the industry. With the mechanisation of the Meiji Restoration, railways removed a lot of the traffic from the Tokaido and seriously threatened the industry in Arimatsu. In response, many mechanisation processes were developed to improve the efficiency of the production of Shibori, but it was still a labour intensive process. However, with the popularity of yukata until the Second World War, the industry enjoyed relative prosperity.

The depression following the Second World War reduced the demand for expensive silk Shibori, but the economic boom of the 1960s saw a return to popularity for the kimono and an increased demand for the skills of the artisans. Kyoto had always been the home of the more expensive silk dyeing for kimonos, but the artisans of Arimatsu expanded their range and experimented with the material, enjoying considerable success. However, with the advent of artificial fabrics and dyes and fully mechanised production of fabrics, Arimatsu could no longer compete on the large scale it had before, and Shibori returned to a handmade high-quality high-price artefact.

Most of the artisans of Arimatsu worked out of their houses, meaning that the architecture of the town is quite unique and is in itself a national treasure. Since most of the work is manual, the same pattern produced with the same materials will be different depending on the artisan. Each person is specialised in one of the particular techniques, and often several people will work together to produce a single work.

shibori chiffon

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.

cotton shibori

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.
http://www.yamasa.org

Shibori, a world tradition

The common English translation of the Japanese word shibori is "tie-dye"; however, a more accurate translation is "shaped resist dyeing," which describes the inherent patterning process of manipulating the two-dimensional cloth surface into three-dimensional shapes before compressing them to dye. Three terms for separate shibori methods have come into international usage: plangi, a Malay-Indonesian word for the process of gathering and binding cloth; bandhani, an Indian term for the process of plucking and binding cloth in small points; and tritik, a Malay-Indonesian word for stitch resist. However, these three terms represent only two of the major shibori techniques.

Many different types of shibori techniques have existed in the world. The oldest examples–pre-Columbian shibori alpaca found in Peru and silk found in fourth century tombs along the Silk Road in China–are from regions where the shibori traditions have not survived to the present day. Shibori traditions existed for centuries in the Middle East and in the Indian subcontinent. Presently, active production in great quantities continues in western Africa, in southern China by minority people, and in the western regions of India. A lesser degree of production continues in northern Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, and in the Himalayan region.

The materials and methods found in different shibori traditions vary widely, reflecting environmental, economic, and social specificities. The fibers may come from alpaca in the highlands of the Andes, sheep in the Himalayas, cotton grown in southwestern China, or from abaca grown in the jungle of the Philippines. The basic concept of shaped resist dyeing is apparent throughout a wide range of aesthetics, which are manifestations of cultural diversity.

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.
www.shibori.org

dye

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."
http://shibori.jp/english.htm

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
www.shibori.org

Traditional Japanese Shibori Links
shibori.jp/koutei
www.suzfoto.com
metafilter summary with links