Shibori – Japanese example (1)

July 7, 2009


One of the most striking aspects of Japanese textiles is the propensity to mix techniques in the one piece of cloth or garment. In the West, we tend to stick to one or two techniques and our work uses just those techniques. In Japan, by contrast, it’s extremely common to see a kimono – as in this example – deploying weaving (here a white silk with a cloud pattern), blue shibori dyeing, the very obvious bleeding where the dyeing starts and finishes (something we might disguise more in the West), the silk painting (possibly a form of tsutsugaki or mock-tsutsugaki since this is a machine-made print) here in the crane’s wing, plus some couched gold embroidery outlining the feathers. I won’t go so far as to see it’s all be done by hand in this example – the weaving is certainly industrial. Some of the shibori may have been done by hand – I understand most of the broad-area shibori is done by machine these days and the large highlights sometimes done by hand. Obviously the tiny holes left by the shibori needle would have shown up a lot more had it been done by hand. The embroidery couching work (as seen from the back of the fabric) is far too regular to have been done by hand. But you certainly get the idea of how luxurious this would have been done, had it all been done by hand once upon a time – and how expensive it would have been then. The shibori here is done in the classic ‘square dot’ style. More on shibori as I re-acquaint myself with the types, the techniques and the Japanese terminology… Thanks to kimoYES (Canberra, Australia) for this example. As far as I can tell, it is cut up from a kimono-type garment (I suggest an outer garment rather than an inner one, given the embroidery), where the crane is at the top near the shoulders and the shibori, representing water and/or snow or flecked waves, is on the bottom half of the garment.  Above the crane’s wing is a small printed teal-blue mon (heraldic crest) which reinforces my perspective.


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