The Art of Shibori

The manipulation of shapes into the textile

Shibori refers to the traditional Japanese method of securing manipulated shapes into textile.  The intention is to create varying texture or if dyed, a pattern in the textile.  In Japanese, the verb root word shiboru, means “to wring, squeeze, press”. The art entails manipulation of shapes into the textile by means of stitching, folding, twisting, plaiting, compressing, crumpling, or capping, and then secured in manners such as binding and knotting (such as in the English term “tie-dye”, referring to only one of these methods).  That said, there are different methods of shibori and each technique is given its own name.

The Art of Shibori
Katsushika Hokusai

The Process

After manual manipulation of the material, it is then dyed, dried, and carefully untied. Towards the end, the material can be steamed and stretched to remove creases.  Alternatively, this step may be omitted in order to retain the beautiful textures. Shibori is very labor intensive. However, the extraordinary element of shibori is the soft and blurry edged pattern which differentiates it from sharp lines obtained through wax, stencil, or paste, or printing. This textile art of resist-dyeing can readily be found on authentic kimono materials.  Or perhaps you’ve spotted glimpses of it in paintings by Katsushika Hokusai and Ando Hiroshige. While the Shibori term came to use during the Edo period (1603-1867), the methods have been used in Japan long before that.  Traces of the art in Japan can be found as far back as before the 6th century.  Scholars hypothesize its origins from India and spread to China via ancient trade routes.

Ando Hiroshige

Due to the unique production processes,

Shibori products differ from one piece to another. 

This adds to their distinctive character and value. 

Every creation becomes one-of-a-kind!

Different Shibori Techniques

These are just a few of the many different Shibori techniques:

  • Kanoko Shibori: This is otherwise called as tie-dye. Some part of the cloth is tied with thread or rubber bands to get the desired pattern.
  • Muira Shibori: This process uses a hooked needle and plucking sections of the cloth. The thread is not knotted, and is just looped. This gives water like design.
  • Nui Shibori: (“stitched” Shibori).  A simple running stitch is used, and then the cloth is pulled together to become tight. It is then knotted and dyed. This is a time consuming process.
  • Kumo Shibori: (“spider web” Shibori). This is a pleated and bound technique where the cloth is bound very closely to give a spider like design.
  • Arashi Shibori: (“storm” Shibori) In this technique, the cloth is wrapped around a pole tightly with a thread. The cloth is then scrunched and dyed resulting in a design on a diagonal.
  • Suji Shibori: hand folded over a rope core in a similar fashion to Arashi Shibori, then bound and dyed.
The Art of Shibori