INDIGO MAGIC, SHIBORI MADNESS

by Daughter Fish

Cotton-and-silk voile nursing shawl/summer scarf

For more than six months, I’ve been meaning to take some of the shibori skills I learned in a workshop at the Textile Arts Center and experiment with an indigo batch at home. I must have been waiting until the weather warmed a bit…that, and maybe a last burst of energy before Baby Fish arrives in June. Last Monday, I invited some fellow textile geek friends over and we whipped up a batch of pre-reduced Indigo I bought from Dharma Trading Company. Between my little back deck and bathroom, we managed to dye yards of silk, cotton, and linen, along with a few pieces of clothing. Now I’m fighting the urge to dye every white surface (curtains, bedspreads, etc) with some shibori goodness.

The process was much easier and less messy than I’d anticipated (despite the fact that my bathtub looked like smurf roadkill afterward!…nothing that a little scrub pad didn’t fix.) And now I have even more respect for those little old Japanese ladies who can make incredibly uniform and precise designs. If you’re interested, I would highly recommend checking out this video, a documentary excerpt about traditional shibori techniques from Arimatsu, Japan (center of the shibori craft). Despite multiple viewings, however, I’m still grasping at how to get a perfect “willow” pattern on cloth.

Attempt at “willow” pattern on linen. I pleated the fabric and wrapped it around rope, tying it with polyester thread.

My big project was to cut out, partially sew, and dye linen pieces for a future dress I want to wear this summer, after the baby arrives. (Unfortunately, I’ve found my future dress design doesn’t look so hot on a preggo bod. It was cool in my first and second trimesters, but with my ginormous belly, it now literally looks like I’m wearing a tent!) Those pieces up top are for the future dress.

I mixed the dye bath in a 5 gallon plastic container from Lowes, and used a recycling bin I had from Ikea to transport the dyed materials to the bathroom for rinsing.

 Here are a few of my favorites from the dye party:

My friend C accordion folded yards of linen. I love the lines with the circular shapes.

For this piece of cotton, my friend L accordion folded the fabric, then sandwiched it between two triangular pieces of woods (leftover wood scraps), and tied the package together with thread. I caught her unwrapping it, so the dye still looks green. Indigo oxidizes to dark blue after it’s been exposed to air for a few minutes.

My friend A created this lovely yardage of silk crepe. The dye bath was actually a few days old and had been used quite a bit already, so the blue here is lighter, and there are some interesting turquoise patches. She accordion folded the fabric and then we sewed lines across the folds at varying distances (that’s where you see the white sections).

Of course, the party wouldn’t have been complete without Baby Fish getting in on the action. I hope she/he like them!

Lord help me from going overboard with the tie-dye and dressing my baby like a hippy!:)