Shibori is a traditional Japanese technique for dyeing fabric. Loosely translated, shibori means “shaped resists”. The technique is a more sophisticated way of tie-dyeing, using aizome or indigo dye made from vegetables, which creates the signature blue and white shibori textiles. Different patterns are made using different and varied ways of tying and knotting the fabric, sometimes to a stick or other object. Fabric can be twisted, bound, stitched, knotted, wound, and shaped for different effects.

My sister and I did a Shibori workshop in Kyoto a few years ago. We each made a scarf with a curmudgeonly “shibori master” who ran an aizome shibori fabric workshop out of his historic machiya house. Shibori dyes are traditionally made from plants and root vegetables, like madder and beets. (Now of course, RIT makes a commercial indigo dye). As you will see below, we used the traditional plant-based dyes, which I believe were activated with a low-grade electrical current. The type of Shibori resist shown is Kanoko shibori, characterized by the little puffs bound into the fabric.

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