Indigo Shibori … Fold, Stitch and Clamp the best Blue and White print !

You have to love the “Blue Dye” no? Would you like to try it? I will be running some basic Indigo Shibori workshops within the next few weeks… but if you love your Blue Indigo Shibori read below… some interesting facts for inspiration !!!

Come for a short Indigo Shibori workshop and get the chance to hand-bind your result in a unique book… with Glasgow artist Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw  and Edinburgh Artist Cassandra Barron

In Glasgow on the 1st June Book here

In Edinburgh on the 27th of May Book here

If you want to spend a week end exploring making an Indigo Vat and learning various folds then join my Indigo Shibori week end in August Details and booking here

Over the week end of Indigo Shibori dyeing learn the basic of Indigo dyeing… learn the secrets preparing your cloth with the perfect folds and stitches to get a great crisp pattern. Experience working with the Blue Indigo and be marvel at seeing the colour develop in front your eyes when dying with Organic Indigo.

The folding and the Blue Dye !

Shibori (しぼり / 絞り) is a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique, which produces patterns on fabric by folding, stitching and clamping, thus blocking out the dye in a structured pattern.

Most of us have at some point used a similar technique to Tye Dye a tee shirt in our teens… but the the first known example of Shibori dates from the 8th century and was realised in Japan, the gift of a Prince and in what colour but the deepest Indigo Blue ! Indigofera Tinctoria or the best organic Jananese Indigo…

Kanoko, Miurom Kumo, Numi are some of the known resist techniques used for Japanese Shibori.

In the Western world probably the most familiar one is Kanoki, a type of Tie Dye using a  strong thread or elastic bands to bind small objects into the fabric before dyeing it. Plastic tops, corks, shells etc… bundled into the cloth and thread or elastic bank used to restrict access to the cloth of the Dye when lowered into the Dye Bath.

Shibori has such a great reputation there is even a worldwide shibori network to keep in touch with all the Shibori news !

Great circular patterns of white cloth around the area where the objects was located. A lovely and fun way to create patterns. No wonder it is popular as it is so simple… a great fav with children.

Indigo, a natural way of dyeing for hundred of years has made recently a big come back and no wonder. Well applied it can give you fun patterns a deep colour of blue even if it looks just like a dirty green cloth when coming out of the dye water… the magic happens through the oxidation process.

Indigo come from a natural plant originally cultivated in India. A recent worldwide movement in Eco Dyeing has put it back to the forefront of the Eco Dyeing techniques and both Organic Indigo and Synthetic Indigo are available certainly online to anyone. But If you have the great chance to live or visit Asia, India, Vietnam, Northern Thailand, Southern China etc…  for example you will find Indigo being used still by local and tribes in their day to day business…. For how long ? That I cant say, its a very lengthy process to prepare a Dyeing Vat. Fashion change and even in The traditional Hill tribes the younger generations want a faster process for their day to day labour !

Brij Ballabh Ulwailal in India runs a very successful studio and practise where he works, researches and teaches Indigo Dyeing from naturally grown Organic Indigo plant. Its a wonderful process but lengthy, He promotes the use of natural Indigo but how sustainable is that in other countries…


Photo copyright Brij Ballabh

To see Brij’s indigo look Here

Patricia Chessman In Chiang Mai Thailand has spent her life researching, using and teaching Natural Dyes in her studio, Studio Naenna, she wrote a wonderful account of women’s weaver’s work in Northern Thailand and her work is so skilled. She runs regular Indigo and natural dyes workshop in Chiang Mai with her daughter and I believe now grand daughter.

It takes to have passionate practitioners such as Brij and Patricia to be able to talk and inspire about  those techniques … but the fact is the bulk of the Indigo dyeing work is done by many many individuals workers mainly women of the cloth all over the world… the unsung heroes in small villages in India, Thailand, China, Africa etc… who slowly cultivate the fiber, make the cloth and dye it …lana

This lady is from the North of Thailand Lana Ethnic community and still at over 80 years old applies wax to fabric to produce the nicest Indigo blue dyed and pattern resist there is… keen to show her skills at the Chiang Mai Design Fair last December.

Clink the link below to see her work !

Pattern tracing in Chiang Mai  

Is Indigo a viable dyeing technique for industry? I noticed recently a number of young South East Asian textile designers drawing onto their roots when creating their style… LONG GOY in Chiang Mai last December was showing some most innovative use of the traditional Lana Indigo patterns on his textile collection. (photos credit LONG GOY)

Vietnamese born young textile designer Vu Thao decided to make the link between tradition and fashion when she set out to create her brand Kilomet 109 by glorifying the skill of Vietnamese villagers in producing the most beautiful Indigo dyed cloth to make the most stunning garments. She works in an Ethical way, is instrumental in keeping traditional skills going while producing most contemporary fashion. She is a great example to be followed. Her work is recognised in the work fashion centres … Ethnic Indigo in the New York catwalks that is an achievement no ? Kilomet 109 made the cover of ELLE this season… from Dye bath to catwalk what a great achievement ! (photos credit Kilomet 109)

But not everyone wants or can travel to the other side of the world to try a technique. Those young designers and indeed the craft practitioners can inspire you enough to want to have a go here at home…

If you want to discover about those technics and play with them … and if you would like to experience the magic of the blue Indigo and the secret folding techniques… on paper and/or cloth why don’t you join one of my workshops this spring ? (details above)

I hope to see you there.


Betty x

Published by bettysbeautifullife

I am a Christie's trained artist born in France but living in Glasgow. I work with Eco Techniques like Natural dyes, Eco Printing and Indigo dyeing using recycled material. I learn, teach and share my techniques, I work with communities and travel to Asia

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