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.
Shibori 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.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 fiber has been achieved. Depending on the material and dye process involved, the “memory” of the shibori process will range from a two-dimensional pattern on the cloth to a three-dimensional surface. Wool and silk tend to preserve folds and textures. In cotton and linen, which need to be thouroughly washed and rinsed due to the corrosive nature of the alkaline dye bath, the “memory” of the shibori process is a subtle pattern on the flat surface of the fabric.
Traditionally, weaving and dyeing have been two distinct and separate areas of expertise. Here they converge. The weavings have been created to be dyed in a particular way. The material (linen, wool, silk), its thickness, and the weaving technique have been chosen to obtain a certain texture, brightness, density, transparency and volumetric effect once the dyeing process is finished. Thus, weaving and dyeing have both an irreplaceable role in the creation of these textile objects.
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.