While traveling to Japan, we decided to take a few classes in shibori technics. As designers, we’re always fascinated to learn more and more about local traditions and crafts, and as a fashion designer, I’m personally obsessed with hand dyeing, and fell in love with shibori long ago.
As a part of our trip we stopped by the Kyoto Shibori Museum, the tiny museum is full with amazing artworks portraying many different shibori techniques like Kanoko shibori, Miura shibori, Kumo shibori, Arashi shibori and Itajime shibori, and a beautiful kimono collection. All very inspiring, and most are for sale.
We called in advanced and scheduled both classes for us, the stitching and tying technique and the folding technique named, the price was affordable, so we figured, hay if we’re already here we might as well try out both. And so we did. The awesome instructor Ryo, speaks phenomenal English (you learn to appreciate it while traveling in Japan), he was very cute and very helpful. Since I’m a fashion designer, I chose the most complicated pattern, Ryo was hesitant but at the end he complimented me for the good work.
In the fist class, we learned a sort of Kumo Shibori, we were explained the designer will draw the pattern on the fabric and stitch around (at the class this part was pre-made for us) than you pull on the thread and start tying the shapes, it kind of looks like horns, using a wood base to hold the thread for you and tie tightly. You need to be very precise so it’ll come out pretty and even. Than they take the cloth you tied, and cook in with some fabric dye, and dry it for you while you practice another technic.
In the second class we learned Itajime shibori, where you fold scarf, we folded a delicate silk cloth, and than chose wood pieces, and attached them on both sides of the cloth like a sandwiched folded fabric, we dipped dyed the fabric, than we took it apart, chose a new wooden shape and reattached it in a new way to create a sort of a print and went back to the pot to dip dye it in a new color. In this technique you are creating shapes and color mixes so you need to be smart and figure out which color to dye first to get the color combo you were going for.
While we were waiting for the fabric to dry, we had a break and we were watching a movie about shibori techniques, the original movie is probably very interesting, but the guys at the museum edited it so you can not learn anything, it was kind of ridiculous, like I would really learn so much from a 10 min movie (in Japanese) that I will go ahead and open my own traditional handmade kimono line and sell it in Japan (P.S. you do know I can learn it on YouTube right?), plus you are the Shibori Museum, it’s like the MOMA will only show you a portion of a Picasso painting so you won’t figure out how to draw Cubism style… All I am saying is that caring is sharing.
Once both of our items were dried out, we were given the honor to open them, the first tied item was untied than pulled in a dramatic effect and we could see how it looked. Needless to say it was awesome! The tying technique with the heat of the dye created a 3D effect on the fabric which was very cool, but you can also iron it to make it flat and frame it (well we didn’t). The scarf is a whole big deal, since you’re being creative and winging it as you go you have no idea what’s going to come out of that folded bunch, so they brought the master who is also the head of the museum, to open it with us in a funny ceremonial way. You count One, Two… Three than you both open it together while someone is taking photos, it was hilarious, but seriously, who would have thought, we actually did well with this one, the master offered us a job, but we had to go back to NYC…
All in all it was a great experience. Highly recommended for another fun side of Japan.
Price was $30 per person per class, so all in all it was about $120 and took about 2-3 hours. Totally worth it. (http://shiborijp.wix.com/kyoto-shibori-museum)