I've attended several dye workshops, all geared toward yarn and roving, but ever since reading about shibori on Mason-Dixon Knitting, I've been yearning for a class on resistant dyeing. Yesterday, my wish was answered. Fort Wayne Parks sponsored just such a workshop, at the Botanical Gardens. Yee-ha!
The instructor, Lorelei VerLee, was the offspring of missionaries and spent most of her childhood in Japan, where her fascination with intricate fabric design began. She is now the Executive Director of Creative Women of the World (whose store front I must visit for xmas shopping). Both she and her assistant wore skirts of shibori.
Lorelei made a point of using equipment and ingredients that we could easily procure, including an indigo dye kit she purchased from Dharma Trading Co. To provide the resist in resistant dyeing, one can use just about anything, from ceramic tiles to cardboard tubes, from rubber bands to binder clips, from marbles to chickpeas. We each received a length of cotton to experiment with and a hemp scarf for a "final project".
For my experimentation, I tried several methods: folding the cotton like an accordion, first in one direction, then another, then sandwiching the cloth between ceramic tiles held in place with rubber bands; wrapping cloth around marbles and chickpeas, holding the objects in place with rubber bands; gathering the cloth like shirring, using needle and thread (this technique was a fail for me - too loosely done); wrapping rubber bands successively around the cloth to form a little tower; and folding the cloth like a flag and clamping with binder clips. (For the record, this step and the step of removing all the resistant materials can be quite tedious.)
Next came the fun part: after wetting the cloth, it was dipped in indigo for a while (a few minutes?), then the magic happened.
(It was during the post-dye bath rinsing where my hands turned blue-ish - it would have been nice if we each had a pair of latex gloves for this step. Most of the dye washed off when I did dishes that night, though.)
For my scarf, I wrapped the cloth around a cardboard mailing tube and secured it with rubber bands. I am not very happy with the results - too much white - so I may take it to the store and re-dye it, as Lorelei will have the vats available for a couple of weeks.
All this was accomplished in about two hours, which was just barely enough time. I didn't get a chance to chat up any of the other participants, although (from eavesdropping) I learned there were at least one or two knitters, some master gardeners, and who knows who else.
I always come away from these workshops with grand(iose) ideas of future projects. One that might actually happen is making a shibori sampler using 12" squares, sewing them together in a patchwork, then quilting the result to use as a curtain in my bedroom. I am also curious about using other dyes, like henna.
So many ideas, so little time.