Kumo Shibori

Shibori, the Japanese technique for dying fabric has many forms with varying results.  In past articles I have written for this blog I detailed some of the techniques.  But before I go any further I wish to explain how silk reacts to dye, and why these techniques are so effective.

Silk is a natural fiber that is thirsty for dye.  As a small drop of dye touches the surface of silk it spreads wide and far… wanting to “run” as far as it can.  Unhindered the entire swatch of material will quickly absorb the dye.

Shibori introduces the idea of creating boundaries, or points of resistance to limit the flow of the dye.  Traditionally this is accomplished either by tightly binding the fabric in specific patterns or forms to result in specific pattern outcomes.

Kumo shibori involves carefully determining how many small tufts of fabric will be gathered, and how they will be bound.  It is known as spider binding because when larger portions of silk are gathered into a cone shape and bound the dye will pool in a pattern that resembles a spider web.  I must be honest in saying this is my signature style…. I love to gather only 5 large cones of fabric, and delicately apply the dye to create 5 large floral forms on the silk.   Here are a few examples:


When the gatherings are small, and many a pattern can develop that has great interest.  Tight and small binding results in tight patterning, more white space.  The Japanese have a tool they use to assist with creating these small gatherings.  I bind my fabric by hand resulting in a less consistent pattern.  But here is the outcome of a tightly gathered Kumo Shibori.  I think I like it.  Once I have all of my silk steamed and pressed I will take much better photos.

IMG_6309[1]Traditional shibori involves the white silk and indigo dye, resulting in a blue and white contrast.  But I am all about the color, and all about breaking through and using color with power and vibrance.  I did not blend up a vat of indigo, choosing instead to use French dye, which offers intense color, highly concentrated.  I did a blending of midnight blue and a cyan, to soften down the dark tones.  The results was a variation on the background that ranged from almost a deep violet to a medium blue.

The pattern looks somewhat dimensional; although once the silk is steamed and pressed it is completely flat.

I tried another pattern of tightly bound kumo shibori and a lighter violet dyed background… the result is also