The Process of Shibori Dyeing

The ancient art of Japanese shibori dyeing dates all the way back to the 8th century, and inspired the much-loved craft we know today as “tie dye.” From the verb root shiboru, shibori means “to wring, squeeze, or press.” Traditional shibori technique is a delicate, time-intensive process, and can transform any fabric into a work of art.  Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Gather The Materials


The desired fabric is prepared, along with a pole, and something to bind the fabric with (twine and rubber bands both work well). Many Shibori artists prefer using silk for this process, and some pre-dye the fabric to create two- or three-toned color effects.

Step 2: Begin the Shibori Process


The fabric is wrapped around a pole, bound with thread, and compressed towards the center to create ruffled pleats. Varying the proximity of the ruffles and twisting the fabric will produce different textures and dye effects — the possibilities are endless.

Step 3: Time to dye


Once all of the fabric is bound and arranged, the whole thing is placed in a dye pot. The dye only penetrates the exposed, outer portion of the fabric, leaving the bound sections un-dyed.

Step 4: Time to dry

After drying on the pole, the fabric is removed. What remains is a thing of beauty. As you can see, the folds in the fabric remain and the colors are magnificent.

 StoriesToArt artist Laura Hunter uses the shibori technique to make her one-of-a-kind scarves. The unique process gives them their signature, draping pleats and organic patterns and colors.

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