Arashi Shibori Quilts

When preparing for my class the other day, I dug out some of the quilts I made when I was last dyeing these lovely fabrics. I don’t think my students will have trouble coming up with ways to use the fabrics, but many do. I find when people take dyeing classes, they feel very “precious” about their work. It’s even worse with any sort of shibori fabrics because you have taken a good bit of time to make a truly one of a kind fabric. I do not save tiny bits of commercial fabrics, but believe me, I save all my shibori bits!!! When thinking about quilts to make, what came to mind was plain Amish style quilts which would showcase the fabric. I wouldn’t do – say – a drunkard’s path or something with weird shapes which would waste my fabrics.

One difficulty I have is thinking of how to quilt them, as quilting is not my strong suit. For “New Age Nine Patch I”, I had to think of something to do in the plain blocks. I finally did a flower shape using a straight stitch, so a lot of rotating under the needle was involved.

It’s always nice to see your work after some time; you get a different perspective on it. And it makes me want to make some more! I really got caught up with the oranges for a time. I dyed using a magenta and a fuchsia with the same yellow and came up with a myriad of yellow and red oranges. I keep trying to do something very abstract, but it doesn’t seem to be in me. Perhaps I can move from these simple quilts to one that are more abstract; this is as close as I have come.

Many years ago when I started dyeing cotton and became a quilter, I wanted to make a progressive quilt where the color moves. I never did it as I thought it would be too dull in plain hand dyes, but when I dyed the arashi shibori I knew that this was the fabric I needed! The center color is pure fuchsia and it moves out to the edge which is a pure blue. This one gave me fits – I didn’t know how much fabric I would need as I moved out and I spent a lot of time dyeing to match. A color would look “close enough” but jump out when I sewed it in place…..

This is my take on Chinese Coin quilts, made wonky, and was made to use up “bits”. The inspiration for the applique design came from the back of a woman’s blue jean jacket at a craft show! I whipped out my pad and did a quick drawing. You never know when you will see something interesting!

I hope this gives you some ideas for quilts and helps you make yourself cut up beautiful fabrics that you have. If you’d like to see some close-ups, I have added a page to my website.

Arashi Shibori Class – the Reveal

Fall definitely seems to be here, but I had hoped that it would be warm enough last Thursday for us to sit outside to do the messy job of adding dyes and chemicals to the buckets…. Instead, I put lots of sheets of plastic, covered with old towels on the kitchen floor. Dyes were mixed at the kitchen table. As you can see, there were lots of different colors and I had everyone using their smart phones to time the various buckets!

Another reason I like to dye outdoors is emptying the buckets. This size bucket, with lots of water in it is very, very heavy to lift up and try to accurately pour into the sink. However, Peter was working at home and I asked him to help carry the buckets outside where we dumped them in the sewer grate in the backyard. The hose was on as well, so that the bucket could be sprayed to get the excess dye out, as could the pipes with the drippy dyes. And here we are indoors again as the reveal begins.

It’s amazing how much dental floss is used to wind around the fabric. And look how pretty! Unwrapping arashi shibori fabric is so much fun!!!

This is Debbie, impersonating a tree trunk! No really, she brought a new brown dye to try - isn’t it a great color? Earlier, when they were dumping buckets outside, I did see her photographing the trunk of our gorgeous burr oak. Perhaps a project is in the making.

Barb is washing a nice piece of red-orange.

And here is one of the pieces of fabric that Bev overdyed. She creates art quilts and these fabrics could be the inspiration for a new series – I hope!

I really enjoy teaching shibori and surface design classes. Helping students learn a new technique and be inspired, inspires me as well. I asked them to send pictures and a write up when they use these lovely fabrics in a new project, so look for a guest post coming soon. Barb took me seriously and this morning I found this picture of all the fabric she dyed on Thursday – thanks Barb! (And sorry, I can’t get the picture to turn….)

Arashi Shibori Class!

I haven’t taught arashi shibori for some time and have been really looking forward to it. On Thursday some of the “Ladies Who Dye” as I call them, came for what I had planned to be a morning of wrapping. Turns out I underestimated the amount of time it would take to – catch up, demonstrate some techniques, wrap, prepare the dye buckets, etc! Luckily there is a sandwich place nearby so the ladies did not starve.

Arashi shibori is so lovely! For years I had admired it and “knew” how to do it from reading books and articles, but just never tried it. When I was able to take classes with Akemi Nakano Cohn, I jumped at the chance. She studied with many fiber artists in Japan and went to Cranbrook, so she is an expert.

The technique is not all that difficult and there are many variations. Frankly, each strip you dye is a one of a kind piece, never to be duplicated even if you wanted to. Strips of fabric are wrapped around a PVC pipe, so that they look like candy canes. Then thread, twine or dental floss is wrapped around the fabric and it is compressed. Two variations are: pushing the fabric straight down the pole or pushing with a twist. We used cotton, though the results are even more amazing with silks.

It’s fun to experiment with a variety of wrapping fibers, though the twine made Debbie sneeze so much she had to stop using it!

You need many hands when wrapping; it’s quite awkward when you are first learning. Barb has run out of hands….

And here is Beverly, overdyeing a surface design experiment that she didn’t like. When you are a dyer, anything that doesn’t please you can be overdyed, until you have a result you like!

Here are some pipes ready to put into the buckets and let the magic happen… Check in a few days for “the reveal”!