Kumo Shibori, against the odds

I’ve been ignoring this technique for some time because it often stands too close to the hippie corner. And I would never want to go there.  The problem with tie dye is that, it has been a victim of too many awful t-shirts over the years (just google ‘tie dye shirts’ for some real time proof). It didn’t matter how how often I saw it in books, or came across it in Edo woodblock prints, I would just stay away. Until one day, I saw the photo of the cutest japanese girl wearing a scarf made entirely of Kumo Shibori. It looked divine!

So one night I cut up a piece of linen and designed a pattern for this technique. I started sewing, tying and some days later I was ready to dye it with indigo. This is how it all went:

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 01

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 02

P1040850Kumo shibori_tezukuri 03

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 04

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 05

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 06

Kumo shibori_tezukuri 07

The pattern is simple, geometrical and shows an intention, I like that. The dyeing bit also turned out really well, it was tight enough so the indigo didn’t bled inside. But, what I keep thinking is, is this technique commercially viable? I first thought this after spending hours untying it, and thought: NO. Even a small piece takes forever to make.

Now, I think it’s absolutely worth it for the artist/designer/maker, I personally am very satisfied. But will anyone pay what it’s worth? With such a long turnaround, I suppose, only someone who appreciates the effort will, I know I would. So I suppose, what’s important here is, to know this technique has its limitations and they should be considered before embarking on a bigger project with it. I’m not only learning textiles here, you see 😉


29 responses to “Kumo Shibori, against the odds

  1. You put your finger right on the problem for designer makers who try to make a living from it – will anyone pay what it’s worth? Ask me how I know. 😉

  2. Wow again! Gorgeous work. Like yourself, I’m not a big fan of tie-dye (though that could also be because I’ve been blinded by the plethora of colours that’s often used )! But THIS….this is making me see Kumo in a whole new light! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wonder why you would ever say you don’t want to go to the “Hippie Corner” ?…Hippies were not just one static thing as people or a lifestyle…they were all over the map…but especially off the map as creative artists and pioneers leading the way.

    • If you knew me you would know that I would’ve never intended to offend anyone, specially publicly. But since you felt the need to try to educate me about hippies, I suspect you didn’t like what I wrote and I’m sorry.

      I won’t explain myself or go on about the hippy subject but I will point out this has always been a friendly place and it would be nice to keep it that way.

  4. This is so beautiful! I just tried shibori for the first time a few days ago and I can already tell that I’m going to get hooked! Your blog is lovely and I’m so excited to have found it. 🙂

  5. I’ve seen many pieces in which the kumo has intention, like your squares and I wondered how I would ever make something with such regular shape. You stitch it! Duh!!! Still learning here, too but I’ve made many pieces with experimentation of design and will now add this to my next batch. Excellent tutorial! Thank you!!

  6. I have just started exploring this technique and I have fallen in love with all the variables and variations. I do also understand the delimna regarding making this a business. But, I had a “ah-ah” moment in a museum recently that had this technique on display. Two Ladies were complaining about the expense of a Shibori dyed scarf. I had the opportunity to explain why it was so expensive. I started with the creation of the dye pots, to the time it takes to “tie” the scarf, the dye process and then the untieing process. They left with a new appreciation of the art. These two Ladies didn’t buy the scarf but my Husband over heard them talking to a friend about the technique. She went in a bought the scarf. This totally made my day.

    • This is wonderful! I personally, only began appreciating the true value of an indigo hand-resisted, hand-dyed piece when I made it myself. So I understand why people think is over priced. But you helped all of us that day and hopefully those ladies keep spreading the word x

    • Hola Ana Maria, que bueno! Si no tienes ninguna experiencia, es bueno investigar sobre el tipo de teñido que te interesa, buscar la oportunidad de ver el proceso de principio a fin y si es posible, intentarlo tu misma. Posiblemente organice un taller el próximo año en Inglaterra, sigue mi blog y recibirás mas detalles. Gracias.

  7. How wonderful! I’m so glad I found your site! I learned some shobori techniques while working on my masters but not this one. I need to get going again and you got my creative juices flowing again. Thanks!

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