Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Another Unknown Shibori

Ted came by from California and we had another short but sweet visit. Looking at a lot of those old Motohiko Katano shibori cards we noticed that quite a few had grey tones. He had used soot and soy milk to form a polymer and adhere the grey. The soot mixture seeps deeper into the folds of the shibori resulting in a grey halo between the blue and the white. The folding was not hard to figure out. Ted quickly got the extra middle fold. The size of the resists needs just a little tweaking to get the overall rhythm perfect. The grey bleed was sublime. Ted, we need a few weeks to simply focus on these grey bleeds. You come teach me.

Ann left today. She has been here for a few months. Quietly working on shibori and zeroing in on the really beautiful fine ones.  She quickly put our research to use and came up with this…

You can see the difference of the patterns on the back and front and how the indigo bleeds through to the other side.

The next step will be sit and stare at this for a few hours and mentally collapse the folds in a new way that comes  out of our own head. The centres of the squares can be played with. The depth of the stitches and the tightness of the pull and tie and the amount of manipulation in the indigo can make it more meaningful. The fabric can be different and perhaps another dye can be bled in. It then won't be just a copy of his work. This was the great thing about Katano as a shibori craftsman. He took a technique and sort of exploded it like John Coltrane did with, 'My Favorite Things.'

This reminds me of Cyndi doing Carey in front of Joni Mitchell. She respects the song and honours it so tenderly. That wasn't the time to explode it. She brings tears to my eyes every time I watch this.

I suppose this is something to think about when approaching shibori. You have a precious tradition that should be preserved but you can easily see the work produced in Arimatsu is God awful. Much of the innovation has production time and sale price written between each miserable stitch and resist. How do you respect it, find the essence then transpose the key into something you can sing with?


  1. Bryan, Thanks again for allowing me to drop in. Always a amazing time. Only wish I had more time to spend there. Looking forward to my next visit hopefully soon.

  2. everything in this post speaks of the sublime. thanks.

  3. I follow your blog for ages and have learned so much but I was startled to read your comment on Arimatsu. I have the dvd of Yoshika Wada and always thought Arimatsu was supposed to be the top quality. Has the commercial side overtaken the artisan quality? Or is there some other reason.
    Thank you for an always inspiring post.


    1. Hi Claudia,
      i will write a blog or perhaps a book about this. I might call it, " Lost in the fossilization of hand- made." It won't be completely cynical.

  4. I have wood heat, and will be trying soot with my indigo. And I can't stop listening to that song, even in my head. Thank you so much for that.