Shibori is a Japanese tie-dying technique. There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns. We delved into shibori at art camp in July and it was epic!! I had eight kids that week, ages 5-7, and each of them took a turn with the indigo dye. The best part by far was cutting off the rubber bands at the end. No matter how you tied it, the patterns were SO COOL!
(I apologize in advance for the liberal amount of photos in this post. I really couldn’t help myself. )
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~ White 100% cotton t-shirt (or napkins or any white fabric)
~ Wooden blocks, clothespins, corks
~ Large bucket or pot for fresh water
~ Large 5 gallon bucket with lid for indigo dye
~ Stick for stirring
~ Tarp for drying
~ Scissors for cutting off the rubber bands
~ There were four blogs that I looked at before I tried shibori: Honestly, WTF, In Color Order, Park and Cube, and Design Sponge. You will find everything you need in these four posts (plus there are instructions inside the box of dye), but I will add some of my own insights that could help you when doing this with kids.
~ Little fingers have a hard time with rubber bands. It all depends on a child’s determination. But at the very least, you and your child can do it together. You can guide their hands, or do every other. The easiest technique for kids would be to accordion fold their t-shirt or fabric, then add a block on each side and tie just a couple of rubber bands.
~ After tying up your t-shirt, it needs to be soaked in some water. But before heading over to the buckets, I gave each kid a pair or rubber gloves!
~ After the fabric is nice and wet, squeeze it out a little before gently placing it in the dye bucket. Once in the dye, the kids had fun pushing down and swirling around their fabric. They did this for about 10 minutes.
~ Then it’s time to pull it out of the dye, squeezing out as much indigo as possible. It’s really cool because the color at first is a bright green. The indigo reacts to the sunshine and turns blue within a few minutes. That part was really fun to watch.
~ Rinse the fabric a few times in fresh water, until no more dye runs out (or almost no more).
~ We dried ours for a bit on a tarp. Then, after everyone had dyed their piece of fabric, I cut off all of the elastics with scissors while the kids played with the hose.
~ Here are all of the wet pieces hanging out to dry. Once air-dried, I threw them in the washer on cold with some detergent, then in the dryer.
~ Our four favorite techniques:
1. Blocks and clothespins
2. Corks (I cut them in half first, you could also use marbles)
3. Traditional tie-dye
4. Rolling on a diagonal first, the tying jut the bottom.
I just LOVE the way the indigo dye turned out. And the best part was that it didn’t fade too much in the laundry. The wet and dry pieces looked very similar. The kids (and the moms) were SO impressed – maybe the moms more so. In fact, I think I’m going to do a shibori craft night next summer!!
I did make a few rookie mistakes which I will share with you:
1. It really does help to double dye your fabric. I was being quick and lazy during camp but when I tried again the next day, I double-dyed (dipped it back in after squeezing it out and letting it turn blue) and the colors stayed stronger in the wash.
2. It’s better to accordion fold your t-shirt and tie than roll and tie. When rolling, the fabric on the very inside doesn’t get any dye at all so when you unroll, one side of your shirt will be white. It does give it a cool ombre effect, but I personally liked it better when the dye was evenly displaced. So accordion folding will create a more even distribution from side to side.
3. If you do roll (rather than accordion fold) then make sure the front of the t-shirt is on the outside. It will get the heaviest amount of dye.
4. If you are doing the traditional tie-dye (big circle) and you have a really thick t-shirt, you may want to tie the front and the back separately, rather than at the same time. This will give you a strong circle on both the front and the back. Also, if you look below at the pink t-shirts you can see that I also tied the sleeves with three rubber bands. This is kind of cute, too, when doing the traditional circle.
Last week, my daughter turned 13. I thought it would be fun to tie-dye some t-shirts shibori style! I bought RIT dye and spent the day tying and dying. I had high hopes!
I tied up 20 t-shirts. Ouch! My fingers were raw.
I dyed them in my kitchen using four different colors. Look how bright the pink is here!
I was really disappointed, though, in how much the color faded and ran in the wash. I followed the instructions, using vinegar to set the dye then rinsing thoroughly before washing in cold water, but the pink and purple especially bled and the crisp white disappeared. The turquoise and blue didn’t run as much, but the color faded a lot.
Here are the girls at the party after the shaving cream fight
I hope you learned a little something from our experience. Let me know if you try this and if you have any tips to add!