Faux shibori

Oh dear, I turned my one week vacation from work into a two week vacation from blogging, didn’t I? Naughty me.

I promised to show some examples of shibori prints, so here we go!

First we have a pair of indigo yukata cottons with shibori style prints and bright colors. Notice how the shibori circles are most often not closed? I suppose that is an effort to make them look more realistic from a distance, and to some extent it can be quite effective. What they eye may miss from a distance, the hand will surely notice, as the fabric is decidedly flat. Every shibori piece in my collection, no matter how old, has at least some tactile evidence of they dyeing process, even if it’s just the remnants of needle holes. These, of course, have none. They do, however, offer a more affordable alternative to the woman who wishes to dress herself in shibori style, but without the expense, as these cost a fraction of the price of a bolt of true, hand tied shibori.

Next is a silk that has been printed with a tsujigahana style image. Tsujigahana is a technique that was popular for a brief period during the 15th and 16th centuries, but has not endured the way shibori has due most likely to the labor intensive process involved in decorating cloth in this style. While shibori is binding and dyeing cloth, tsujigahana involves the further step of drawing detailed designs on the cloth after dyeing. The techniques are meant to compliment each other, while contrasting at the same time. Harmonious disharmony, in effect.

faux tsujigahana

This piece is obviously not true shibori/tsujigahana as evidenced by the perfectly straight selvage. Any time cloth is bound and dyed with a technique such as shibori, it alters the width of the cloth and we often notice the irregular edges. Here the edges are straight and clean, and yet the image is dyed in such a way as to make it appear textured.


Here we can see it is simply clever work by the designer, plus a slightly textured cloth to start with. This is in fact quite a beautiful piece of silk, even if it is merely an emulation of a more complex technique. But look! There are the fine black lines often seen in true tsujigahana, making the flowers pop just enough to be noticed. From a distance we notice the tonal variations from light to dark and can appreciate the softly cascading wisteria blossoms, but close up we notice veins on some of the leaves, the definition of petals, and at once the shibori style flowers and leaves seem almost clumsy. It’s this visual juxtaposition that at first repelled me, but now attracts me to tsujigahana textiles. It’s a pity they are so difficult to come by these days.

For further study of tsujigahana, I highly suggest Tsujigahana, The Flower of Japanese Textile Arts by Toshiko Ito. The link will take you to Amazon.com, but considering the price of the book, you’re better off checking your local library. Interlibrary Loan is a wonderful thing, especially if you, like me, live in an area that is a bit far from any major metropolitan area and larger, more comprehensive library collections.

Stay tuned for the Free Fabric Giveaway coming up this Tuesday!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. wakuwaku says:

    Gorgeous fabrics! Do you know anything about a kind of shibori called willow? In Japanese it’s yanagi. (やなぎ or 柳) Is there a technique like that or am I only imagining I heard that mentioned?

  2. Yes indeed, willow (yanagi) shibori is really beautiful. Unlike the repeating dot patterns of the more common kanoko (fawn dapple), yanagi is pleated without first marking the cloth. It’s more of a free-hand design.

    There is also willow leaf (midori) shibori, which is bound around a rope core and is a more complex type of shibori. I prefer the yanagi and mokume, or wood grain shibori, styles myself.

  3. Lori Kay says:

    welcome back and thanks for the lessons!

  4. Zaius Nation says:

    What great fabric! I think that I would like some jammies made out of those…

  5. shiborigirl says:

    I’m hoping to visit the Itchiku Kubota Museum when I go to Japan in May. Hoping I can make it a day trip from Tokyo.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.