What is Shibori?

What is Shibori?

Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that has been around for centuries. It's unique and versatile, which is why it has become so popular in recent years. But what exactly is Shibori, and where did it come from? Keep reading to find out!

The art of shibori is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. The word “shiboru” comes from the verb "to squeeze," which references how this process gives cloth three dimensions through being manipulating various ways and then dyed. When we think of traditional Japanese design, the first thing that comes to mind is often indigo-colored shibori cloth. But there's so much more than just blue in this beautiful tradition!

The process for making these textiles has been around since ancient times and involves using techniques of tying, folding or wax resist and then dyeing with natural plants such as woad (a type wheat) extract. They were originally made out of incredibly expensive materials which gave them an airy feel lightweight yet durable qualities perfect when used by royalty. It is not clear when the art of Shibori was invented but it dates back at least 238 CE. A Chinese emperor received "spotted fabric" from Queen Himiko, which was likely shibori cloth. 

The shibori method of decoration had more than just dots and squares. It could be complex, including geometric designs that combined all three methods or even nature-inspired artwork like floral arrangements in a garden setting! The three main types of shibori are tied up, wax resist and folded between two wooden blocks. Often more than one technique is used at the same time or on different fabrics to create an interesting look for your items! 


The kumo shibori is a type of patterning that creates the familiar web-like appearance we know so well from our childhood memories. This technique has been around since ancient times, and was used to decorate pottery as well as clothes with decorations such dots or geometric shapes like Embroidery on leatherwork ( Kissaki). The use for this style declined over time due in part because it's complicated application process which requires great skill from an experienced artisan; however there have been some recent innovations through technology where now anyone can create these beautiful works using online programs like “Kumusha"

Itajime shibori is a type of fabric that uses the principles behind origami to create beautiful patterns. Fabric is folded many times into small squares (or triangles) and then placed between two blocks - sometimes even adding weights onto these pieces for an even deeper reveal when unfolded again!

Beni Itajime is a unique technique used exclusively for making red silk undergarments that focus on heavy repeat patterns and lacquered wooden boards. The fabric was very fine, which meant the dye could penetrate more deeply into it to give off beautiful colors unlike any other type of material out there! As seen in the photo above.  

Shibori is a dyeing technique that has been used for centuries in Japan and other parts of Asia. The word shibori comes from the Japanese verb “shiboru” which means to wring, squeeze, or press. There are many ways to create patterns with shibori, but all involve folding, twisting, pleating, or stitching the fabric before dyeing it. What do you love about shibori? Is it the unique patterns that can be created? The history behind the technique? Or maybe the fact that it’s a handmade process? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Sources and Further Reading: 


https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=tsaconf (source of image) 


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