Monday, June 16, 2014

Overview of Arashi Shibori

Silk Scarf by Pat Spark with Arashi Shibori resist.  Walnut hull dyebath.

I have been doing some arashi shibori (pole wrapped/ tie resist) with both eco dyes and synthetic acid dyes on silk scarves recently.  I haven't photographed the process, but I thought maybe this article that I wrote about 10 years ago might be helpful in explaining the process.  In this case, I was doing arashi shibori on wool felt.

More Experiments with Shibori
Pat Spark, Oregon, © 1995

........... the inspiration to try some variations with shibori on felt.  I had seen tie-dye techniques used on felts by artists, Chad Alice Hagen (USA) and Beret Aksnes (Norway) and I was very intrigued with the possibilities of tie-dye, but I had never taken the time to try it myself.  (In the 60’s, I did help support myself by tie-dyeing T-shirts and selling them at craft fairs.  But that was before I began to felt and it seems like another life-time ago.)  
            I began my research with an article written by Cheri Bridges for the Seattle Weavers’ Guild Bulletin in Feb. 1993.  The article cited a few articles on the subject. (See bibliography.) As luck would have it, I was able to find my copy of the magazine which contained these articles.  After reading these sources and experimenting with the technique, I have come up with the following information:
            The word shibori is Japanese and comes from the verb shiboru which means “to wring, squeeze, and press”.  When shibori is done to a fabric, areas are compressed in some manner which causes the compressed areas to resist dye.   The fabric can be bound, pleated, stitched, wrapped, etc. to create the resist areas.  If the fabric is wrapped around a pole and then bound in some way, the technique belongs to a family called bòmaki shibori (pole-wrapped resist dyeing).  Arashi shibori is a type of pole wrapping in which lines are created across the fabric.  The term arashi  means storm and to many people, the pattern created by the dyed and resisted areas of cloth looks like rain being driven from the sky by wind.  I tried several variations of arashi shibori and then I tried a sample of mokume shibori.   This shibori method is a stitching technique in which the pattern created by the dyed and resisted areas looks like wood grain.  (Mokume means wood grain.) 

Materials for Arashi Shibori:

The pole:  The cylinder must be the same size from one end to the other.  Finding a pole which would fit in my  dye kettle and which could take the high temperatures of a simmering dye bath has  been very difficult.  I have not found anything yet which is easily available, and which will resist the heat.  In my reading, I found that PVC pipe would certainly not resist the high temperatures.  At a plumbing and irrigation store,  I found ABS pipe which was supposed to withstand higher temperatures than PVC.  It was inexpensive and a 10” length fit nicely into my canning kettle sized dye pot.   I was able to cut a grove into the top to help secure the binding string and this was helpful in the binding process.  Unfortunately, it did warp with the heat.  I had an acrylic spaghetti storage container which was a symmetrical cylinder. It had a small lip on top, so the bound felt could be pushed against it without any danger of it slipping off the end of the cylinder.  It worked for about four dye baths and then it warped.  I had a heavy plastic container which used to contain GOOP, a grease cutting hand cleaner.  This container gets slightly flaccid when it is hot, but so far it has not warped.   However, I only have one of these containers and it has taken my family years to go through the 4 1/2 pound jar of GOOP.  I was dyeing pieces of felt which were about 12” by 18”.   The GOOP container is 16 1/4” around and 8” tall.  The acrylic container and the ABS pipe were 14 1/4” around and 10” tall.   I had no trouble wrapping the fabric pieces around either sized cylinder.   D’Arcie Beytebiere (see bibliography) suggests that the cylinder should be a couple of inches greater than the width of the fabric.  She also suggests using a stainless steel pipe for high temperature dyeing, but I have not found one yet. (NOTE: Since I wrote this article, I have found that I can use the ABS pipe and it doesn't distort too badly.) 

The felt:  I made a thin felt of white merino.  I used two thin layers of carded batt and laid  them at right angles to one another on a bamboo mat.  When they were laid out, the fleece layers were about 22” x 56”.   I covered the fleece with nylon net and poured hot, soapy water through a sieve over the wool/nylon net stack.  I flattened the stack to remove the air, lifted the net and folded over the edges to strengthen them.  Thin places were filled with more dry fleece and the net was replaced over the wet fleece. The excess water was sopped up with a towel and cold, soap gel was added for lubrication.  Using a Tubberware juice container lid in each hand, I rubbed the surface for about 1/2 hour.   The wet wool was rolled in the bamboo mat, around a large wooden rod.  The water which drained off was squeezed into a bucket and a dry towel was wrapped around the bamboo roll.  The roll was tied in several places and I used my forearms to rotate it back and forth for 15 minutes.   I untied the roll, re-rolled it from the other end, covered it with a towel, tied it together and rotated it again for 15 minutes.   After rinsing, the resulting piece of felt was ready for dyeing.  (I didn’t want the felt to be too hard because I knew the dyeing would continue the fulling process.)  The felt had come in about an inch on all sides.  I cut it into sections about 12” x 18” so it could be wrapped onto the cylinders. The felt was still damp but not drippy when I wrapped it.

The thread:  I used cotton postal twine for the pole wrapping techniques.   When I did the stitched technique, I used heavy button/carpet thread.
The dye:  I used Profast Acid dyes for wool.  They come from PRO Chemical and Dye Inc.; PO Box 14; Somerset, MA 02726; 1-508-676-3838.  The color was WF Acid Brilliant Blue, #490.    A scant tsp. of dye was dissolved in a  small amount of water.  This solution was added to 2 1/2 gallons of simmering water. The stitched or wrapped felt was wetted in warm water and then added to the dyebath.   Taking 1/2 hour or so, I raised the temperature to a simmer and then added vinegar (approximately 3/4 cup).   The heat was reduced to keep the bath at a simmer and the felt stayed in the dyebath for another 45 minutes or so. (The dyebath was stirred occasionally.)  The felt was removed from the dyebath, allowed to cool slightly and then the threads were cut away.  By this time the felt had cooled enough to be rinsed well.  The felt was not quite hard enough for me, so I rubbed it slightly on my glass washboard.  I rubbed it from the backside because I didn’t want to blur the edges of the resist.  I then blocked it out with my hands to straighten the edges and spread it to dry.    The final pieces were  2-3 inches smaller than the original fleece batts on all sides.

ARASHI SHIBORI (Pole Wrapped Resist, Driven Rain Design)

1. Lay the cylinder in your lap. 
2. If you want the stripes to angle from upper left to lower right, start at the upper right hand corner of the felt and wrap it clockwise around the cylinder, keeping the fabric flat against the cylinder.  (See diagram)   If you want the stripes to go in the opposite direction, start in the upper left hand corner of the felt and wrap the felt counter-clockwise.  If you want the stripes to be straight rather than diagonal, start the wrapping along the top edge of the felt and do not wrap it around the pole.   Let any excess cloth hang off the bottom of the cylinder. 

3. Secure the felt to the pole with a thread which has been tied with a slip knot.  Pull the thread snugly. 
4. Wrap the thread over the felt,  around the cylinder.  Keep the thread tight and don’t let go of the tension.  The spacing of the rounds will determine the spacing of the stripes.   I started with my wraps around 1/4 inch apart. 

5. When several wraps have been done,  push the bound fabric towards the end of the cylinder.  Don’t let go of the thread.  Be sure to keep it under tension!
6. Continue to bind and gather the felt, wrapping any additional felt around the pole as you go. 

7. When all of the felt has been gathered onto the cylinder, tie off the thread.  The felt is ready for dyeing.   

1. Stripe Width Changes:  When wrapping the felt around the pole, vary the distance between the wraps of thread.  They  can be close together or far apart and the strips  of area open to be dyed will be narrow or wide.
2. Puckers and Folds:  When wrapping the felt around the pole, don’t keep it flat against the cylinder.  Put in little tuck or bunch together the felt to make a pucker.  After dyeing,  these areas will be more irregular so the stripe is not so apparent.
3. Twists:  When the felt is being pushed up the pole, twist it to the side instead of pushing straight up.  This will create a dashed type stripe.  (But it’s very hard to do with the felt.)

Seattle Weavers ‘ Guild Bulletin Supplement Feb. ‘93; Easy Shibori- A Place To Begin by Cheri Bridges.  
Threads Magazine; No. 8, Dec. ‘86/Jan.’87.  
       P. 20-21 “New Twist on Resist”  by Yoshiko Wada;
       P. 22-24  “A Working Method for the Home” by Shelley Karpilow; 
       P. 24-27 “A Textural Approach to Arishi Shibori” by D’Arcie Beytebiere.