Sunday, 8 December 2013

Process Unknown Shibori

In a few old shibori books there is the inviting phrase, 'Process unknown' written under  photographs of  pieces of Jacqueline Kennedy indigo. (Mysterious and completely unaccessible.) Liza and I tried to demystify one of those pieces a few years back. We managed to get close but the enthusiasm waned after a few failures. Ann and I picked up the thread a week back and tried to unravel the techniques of  a few old Motohiko Katano indigo dyed pieces found on postcards.

We struggled to get our linear brains to warp and see the thing three dimensionally and figure out the stitching and pulling sequences. Like an obvious but tricky chord progression, there were a few, "you gotta be kidding, he wouldn't have gone to that much trouble" moments.

Here are three related, 'process unknown' shibori techniques by Katano Motohiko. I am sure someone has figured out how he did them but the techniques are not in any of the shibori bibles I have run into.

The one on the left was challenge number one.

The first thing was to get out brains to flip right and see the collapsing principals. Bright coloured markers helped. Then a more refined gridding out.

The front stitched in white.

The back stitched in black.

The black and white threads pulled and tied.

The first piece was dyed without much manipulation under the surface of the indigo.

And the second piece dyed more carefully with opening action both under the surface of the indigo and  while oxidizing. 

Pretty amazing. More to come.


  1. Beautyfull shibori! Thank you for this posting!

  2. i think i've fallen in love with this. oh, my!

  3. you mean he stitched both back and front?? amazing!

  4. yup, hundreds of threads in just 50 cmd . Took two days to stitch just that. No wonder these techniques are going extinct.

  5. These are absolutely fascinating and I loved the pictures showing the stitching. It would be worth putting in the time to achieve that look.

  6. I'm so loving your brain function Bryan........awesome!

  7. Oh shit you cracked it! Can't wait to see your own interpretations x

  8. Wow...that's quite a riddle. Thanks for posting all the different steps. I like how you figure out the stitching with the markers.

  9. wow, pretty amazing. good work, Bryan!

  10. This is very interesting.
    Not only because of the beauty of these pieces, but on an intellectual side.

    Your sentence " We struggled to get our linear brains to warp and see the thing three dimensionally and figure out the stitching and pulling sequences "
    reminded me the same kind of effort we have to make to understand " armures " in weaving (I don't know the english word).

    This is why i think textile art is so rich in helping to understand ourselves, and in what it may constitute a " do " (japanese sense), it's because of the similarity between mental and fibers structures and ways.

    Years ago, I was so bad about " dimensionnaly warping", that I was feeling forced to sustain an incredibly hard " struggle", as you say about your brain, to understand the most simple of shiboris, guessing in what order you had to take it etc.
    Now it's a little bit better.
    But I'm glad you brought this reflexion, it's good to know we all work this way. Thanks for your inspiring blog.