Shibori is an ancient textile resist-dyeing technique that has been practised in many parts of the world. “Shibori” is a Japanese word used internationally nowadays to denote the technique. Pre-Columbian resist-dyed textiles from approximately 700 BC have survived due to favorable climatic conditions, providing the oldest examples of the technique. Shibori continues to be practised in a traditional way particularly in India, Africa and Japan.
The technique consists of protecting selected areas of a fabric previous to dyeing. The cloth is manipulated by folding, sewing, clamping, binding and knotting to prevent the dye from reaching the fibre. The result is a negative image, where the obstacle imprint is the figure and the dyed cloth the background (this is of course reversed in the discharge process). The effects vary from the sharpness of a line to the softness of watercolour. Blurred outlines are obtained where the pressure is weak, whereas sharp outlines occur where a perfect barrier between colorant and fibre has been achieved.
In shibori there is always an element of surprise, since the process cannot be totally controlled. Each piece is unique, and cannot be duplicated. Trying to find a balance between control and chance is particularly challenging. The artist must be able to anticipate the results and yet be responsive to the unexpected. The work created has a life of its own.