Shibori, Sandy Wagner

I have had an interest in Shibori for a long time and the show that is listed in the Thirtieth Anniversary issue of Ornament featuring Carter Smith sparked the topic for this month. In going back through the history of Japan you see this art form as a labor of love but mostly out of necessity in the early years.


The show is called Carter Smith Shibori Treasures – one of the pieces is transparent and very striking. The pieces above are Rhapsody in Red of silk double georgette, pleated, dyed, discharged and dyed again.shcloth6.jpg

This piece is from the Shibori Art Couture Clothing collection and is in collaboration with son Noah’

A bit of history: “Tradition” in A.D. 749 Emperor Shomu procceded in state to Todai-ji, the great Buddhist temple in Nara, to celebrate the completion of its enormous bronze image of Buddha and the fortuitous discovery in a remote part of Japan of gold, needed to coat the figure itself and the large bronze lotus upon which it is seated. The court nobles, ministers of state, religious, civil and military figures. The minster of the imperial household addressed the image on the emperor’s behalf. The same year, after 24 years ruling the empire the emperor abdicated and took religious vows, and in 756, after his death, the empress donated all his household and personal possessions to the Todai-ji. All remain there today and are the earliest existing examples in Japan in resist-dyed cloth. (Shibori – Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, Mary Kellogg Rice, Jane Barton).

This is becoming a lost art in Japan – most of what silk and cotton that we have come to know from Japan is now being produced in China – the cost has become to high. In the book Shibori the authors talk about the Original Process, Japanese Adaptation and the American Adaptation. The original is very high labor intensity and very costly but what a work of art. In Japan at the present time the tapered pole process is replacing the pleating process. Using the pole they wrap and compress the fabric, coat with a sizing and dye them – removed from the pole and fastened around a rope and secured then dye again. This is being done in small quanities of silk. The American process is done using PVC pipe, not sized, using string to make resist then dyed.


Woman’s light cotton kimono (yukata style shibori) basic design


Japanese larch – drawing of pattern – karamatsu shibori.

The Japanese artist took hours to hand sew the patterns in the cotton producing tiny patterns over all the fabrics. In the early days all was done with indgo but as the years went on they added color and hand painting to the fabric joining with the Shibori.


Machiko Furusawwa, Kosode, silk


Kosode, silk and stylized leaf design in bound dots. Seventeenth century now in the Toyko National Museum.

As the artists in the US have progressed in techniques they have produced outstanding silk fabrics. The pieces that are being textured as well as Shibori worked and dyed. They are wonderful visual pieces that have become 3-D.


Savannah Pelts – opera shawl and feathered boa. Dyed, hand stitched then over dyed before being pole-wrapped and overdyed again.


A process: Marking lines on dyed silk broadcloth – stitched – the discharged.

Reading: Shibori, Creating Color and Texture on Silk by Karren K. Brito and the above mentioned Japanese Shibori book. Both of these books have wonderful source material and how to – all we need is time and patiences.

In my next life I’m going to spend it doing Shibori – not enough time in my present life.

Websites: Carter Smith; this site has some examples of indgo on cotton.



5 Responses to “Shibori, Sandy Wagner”

  1. 1 Kino May 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

    i m working on my thesis on shibori help me…

  2. 2 DycleAcebylot October 29, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Just went through your pages. Are you becoming attached to my booze audience A joke for you peoples! What do you get when you cross a canary and a lawn mower? Shredded tweet.

  3. 3 Bushra Jamil September 4, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    i simply loved the shibori work iit is so beautyful and fasinating,is it possible i can learn the techinque.I would love to do that.Can yo help.

  4. 4 Mandi August 22, 2007 at 6:20 am

    Gorgeous! Love this post! I have wanted to do more shibori, but it is labor intensive, so I’ve had a hard time finding time to do it. But this is such an inspiring post I’ll have to make time. I’m very interested in Japanese textiles…shibori, yuzen, katazome…so I’m really pleased to see this post. Thanks!

  5. 5 Clairan August 22, 2007 at 5:19 am


    Thanks for posting on shibori. I too love it. I took a great class with Jan Myers-Newbury several years ago, got the Shibori book by Wada, and have been experimenting ever since. I especially like the one where you step on the cloth with your foot and twist it up from there. Such organic forms! However, I mainly use the pieces as background. I really haven’t found a way to use it more successfully. Anyone have suggestions!

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