An Experiment with the Microwave

Beautiful-indigo-shibori-kimonosRecently, I have been reading about the traditional Japanese skill of Shibori. You’ve probably seen examples around as it has become very popular.

Shibori-text-Yoshiko-Iwamoto-Wada
‘Shibori’ by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wade, 1993. A useful book about Japanese resist dyeing. And, next to it, a double page from my 1982 book about tie dyeing showing basic pleating and knotting techniques.

Shibori is a dyeing method that involves folding and binding plain, undyed cloth and then submerging the knotted cloth in a dye bath (traditionally indigo) to produce a patterned textile. It is a kind of tie dyeing and has been practiced in Asia and Africa for centuries. The process has been fine-tuned into a classic textile skill in Japan. Indeed the word Shibori comes from the verb root ‘shiboru’ which means to wring, squeeze or press.

Classic-examples
Double page spread of kimonos made from textiles dyed with indigo using various shibori folds and knotting techniques. From ‘Shibori’ by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wade, 1993.

I thought I’d have a go using a plain white, long, crepe de chine scarf. As it was a long scarf I first folded it four times to create a small square which I then pleated and bound into a sausage. I didn’t use a dye bath, but soaked parts of the sausage with two colours, magenta and a chestnut brown. The dyes were then fixed by a short burst in the microwave instead of the usual two hours in my big steamer.

Microwave-shibori-silkAbove is the result after the first microwave fix. I thought there was too much undyed white. It appears I didn’t soak the silk sausage with enough dye. There are some interesting patches of blending, but the whole scarf looks too much like basic tie dye. However, I did think it would make a good background for some overpainting with pale colours. Once I had finished painting the scarf I removed it from the frame, loosely folded it up and microwaved it again.

Ready-for-last-microwaveI found microwaving silk not for the faint-hearted as despite always including a small dish of water, the silk gets very hot indeed and there is a real risk of scorching and even catching on fire! It was a relief to plunge the hot silk into the cold water for a quick rinse.

Last-rinse

After the usual washing and pressing here is the finished result.

Autumn-banner-2-2018 copy

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Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

6 thoughts on “An Experiment with the Microwave”

  1. How striking the end result is, with shibori, and then the overpainting that blends and binds together the patterns made by the shibori binding. I’ve not ever used overpainting with shibori, and I like it a lot! Nor have I used a microwave in this way, so your helpful blog post forewarns me!

    1. I must admit that this was probably the first and the last time I use the microwave. It isn’t really big enough for a normal, largish scarf. I prefer to roll and steam to avoid creating creases in the silk. The shibori, I think, is worth another go. Using it to make a background and then paint some ‘Edo’ period motifs on top might be effective. I am a big fan of Japanese woodblocks.

    1. Makes a change doesn’t it? I can see a few ways I could develop this which I might try next year after this year’s Christmas chaos! Yes, there is something gorgeous about colourful silk submerged in water – I wish it didn’t have to dry out.

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