The Shibori Technique

Resist-dyed Cloth


Shibori is a Japanese word used to describe a myriad of techniques for manipulating cloth prior to dyeing it. The design elements are created by folding, twisting, stitching, knotting, pleating, wrapping or pinching. The cloth is then secured with binding and placed in the dye pot. The resisted areas form soft-edged, spontaneous-looking designs which seem to possess their own vocabulary.


The closest term we have in English is "tie-dyeing." Shibori techniques have been practiced in some form all over the world; the most well-known examples are from Japan. Because of the perishable nature of cloth, we cannot determine exactly when or where the first shibori had its origins, but it more than likely dates back to an early pre-historical period in man's technological development.


The results of the dyed cloth almost always have an element of surprise because the dye pot, like the potter's kiln, leaves at least some of the process to chance. And each worker is unique in the way he/she folds, twists, stitches or gathers. Thus even when a very precise method of preparing the cloth is followed, the results will be different each time, depending on not only personality and temperament, but also on the kind of cloth and dye, and the huge variety of threads, clamps, and poles used in the process.


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