Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shibori Indigo Dying an obsession with history and tradition.

Maybe it is because it is summer, think deep blue ocean,  endless blue sky or  more accurately it is because I like doing things the long way but ... I am loving indigo and my latest obsession Shibori.

Process of Indigo dye Oxidizing
I am an aspiring surface and textile designer and a former ceramists (aka potter- no not that type of pot, the clay kind) so I love making making marks especially ones that I can do by hand. Indigo appeals to me because of it's history, like clay it is long, each peoples around the world adapted and used it in their own way to dye clothes, make textiles, and tell a story. It like clay had symbolic and ritualistic importance... But most what I love about it is that you can set it up, plan out your design, proceed with dying and it is not until you have unwrapped it and exposed it to air does the pattern truly reveal it's self. I had that same excitement when I opened the kiln to see how the glazes formed and moved to the body of the clay. 
finished cloth
I have been studying pattern and surface design for the better part of a two years, it started off with block printing and then I took more specific classes. The first class that I took was at my old University (Emily Carr), it was an evening thing taught by a well established Canadian Artist Eleanor Hannan.  I thought I was there to learn about printing making and silkscreening... but the very first thing we did was dye fabric, my thought was oh great, I took this class to to figure out how to tie dye?  I did that in Kindergarten. But what I did not know then was fold, resisting and and mixing dyes and fabrics could such made complex patterns... With a little thought they could even be said to make designs. And that is just what people have been doing with them for 1000's of years. 

These days we are mostly familiar with Tie Dye, the hippie Grateful Dead art of bright Day-Glo colours. That was a time and a place and for many it still is... For me it is about working with my hands, creating something simple and complex. The Binding techniques I am using are reminiscent of Shibori a old an Japanese method for dying cloth, first recorded in the 8th century (701-800 common era). It was so intricate that many forms were developed and each style given it's own name.  My own examples included Ne-maki, Nui, Arashi and Itajme.

Folded and Bound Cotton
Itajme - folded and sandwiched between two boards.

Opening up Arashi- pole wrapped Shibori
Arashi results.
Ne-Maki results.
I am still using silkscreen, block printing and digital printing to create my textiles but something about the long laborious practice of  shibori (you can call it tie dye if you want, I won't be offended) soothes my inner makers soul, where I have to do things with history and tradition- even if there is a faster way of doing them now.

Want to see the finished products? The Infinity Scarves are now listed in my Etsy shop Scrappy Carp.

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