Shibori Silk Dying

I wrote a bit about the Shibori Silk Dying process yesterday, but I would like to show you the process… in more detail.
I tied the silk, and the photo below shows it wet with dye. Primarily a magenta fade to brilliant red, I also dropped some segments of yellow, green, brown and black. My inspiration was watermelon…. I was looking for the dye to break and create veins of specific coloration that might resemble seeds and rind.

After drying thoroughly I began to pull the knots out of the silk…

Time consuming but finally pulling all the knots out I could then begin to open up the silk:

Now the silk is by no means ready to wear yet. The dye must be fixed to the silk. This involves a process of steaming first, then washing and ironing the silk. The heat of the steam will fix the dye to the silk, making it permanent. I save up a number of scarves, and steam them all at one time in a large antique copper laundry boiler after wrapping each scarf individually in newspaper, then the bundles of scarf/newspaper get bundled in an old ratty quilt, tied tight, and dropped into the top of the old copper boiler. (I have a platform half way up the boiler so the bundle is not immersed in the water, but the steam can quickly envelop the bundle and heat set the dye.)

After the steaming is done, each scarf is unwrapped, then washed in a gentle chemical bath to remove any loose dye, and restore the softened texture to the silk. A quick dip into a cool bowl of water with a small amount of fabric softener, rinse, and iron… and we are done.

So that is the basic process of creating a shibori silk scarf. I love the process immensely. And i think the biggest thrill is seeing how the dye has layed down on the silk. Sometimes the various colors react with each other, or blend to create different coloration. And sometimes the result is startlingly spectacular, and not what I expected. One example is this scarf that resulted in a bold purple veining that was not my intention – but a pleasant surprise:
Those deep purple veins are something, but i am not certain why it behaved in this way.

I am happy to tell you that both scarves sold.


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