Shibori | Experiment with Indigo Dye

Have you noticed there is a lot of blue “tie dye” around this year? It’s called Shibori , which follows the same techniques as the tie dye that’s been hip since the 70’s but has been used by the Japanese since the 8th Century.  Instead of using Ritz dye or a kit you can get at a craft store,  Indigo is used.  Indigo is a natural dye, made from, you guessed it, the Indigo plant.

I gathered up the required supplies and during a visit at my sister’s, we set up the dyeing station and got to work!  We used all sorts of objects such as rocks, pieces of wood either clamped on to the folded fabric or with rubber bands, or twisting and folding the fabric then wrapping the entire thing with twine.  We used silk, cotton, a sheet of muslin and various sized cotton T-shirts.  The most creative part of the process was creating these “resists” (the item that resists the fabric from absorbing the dye).  One of the fun parts was unwrapping the fabrics and trying to figure out what we used or how we folded the fabric to get a particular pattern.

We followed the instructions from the kit to mix the batch. being careful to keep the dye vat from being exposed to oxygen.  When the piece comes out of the dye vat it’s green in color.  Immediately after being exposed to oxygen, the fabric begins to turn blue. This is why you have to keep the piece under the surface of the dye liquid and a lid on the bucket when you aren’t using it.  In hind site we should have dipped the fabric in the dye vat 5-10 times to obtain a darker color; when you wash the final product the color does fade a bit.  The more times you dye the object the darker it gets. The more exposed to oxygen the dye is, the weaker the solution becomes.

We had a great time with this bit of creativity! Our skin slightly blue and since it’s a natural dye, we were not concerned about disposing it outside!  If you want to try doing Shibori,  you can get every thing you need, with the exception of the buckets, from Dharma Trading.  Have fun!!


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