- Use your research to inspire a collection of samples that explore one or more historical techniques.
- Focus on a process or combination of techniques and produce a more considered final piece.
- Write evaluation.
Before I could even start this project I needed to be clear in my own mind that worked through what I considered to be historical textile techniques. I had gathered so many odds and ends it felt a waste not assemble them in a more orderly way in my sketchbook. These can be seen in RESEARCH AND REFLECTION as HISTORICAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES SKETCHBOOK PAGES. Please use tag at the bottom of this page.
1 – SAMPLES
2 – SAMPLE 15 – Final sample. Using ideas from the others I made one long banner with shapes morphing from circles to squares with hallo effects and layering with the sheers. The lolly sticks were included at the end for practical reasons of give it some weight to hand but also to signify the end of the process and even the by product / waste was valued as part of the design. I have tried to show this as linked up as possible – you get the idea anyway !
3 – Sample evaluation
In this project the focus is to study and to revive traditional techniques when creating samples but to also make a connection with my own work. It took a while to decide which technique to use as I was looking for that connection. I thought it over for several days and was constantly tempted by wood block printing but I realised that was a safe option for me so I intentionally chose a technique I was less drawn towards giving me more of a challenge and the scope to develop. I settled on the shibori dye technique, with the intention of focusing on clamp resit (Itijame) and tied resist ( Arashi). Shibori had a strong revival in the 1960’s and 70’s although then it was called tie-dye but I knew I wanted to steer well away from the typical sun burst tied resist patterns that we associate with that era. I was drawn to the more graphic bold images of the clamp resist and felt this was something that offered some creative possibilities.
Why I choose Shibori.
Throughout the whole of this section I have been looking at different areas of sustainability in textiles which I now know is far more complex than my initial understanding of simply recycling items of clothing. My reasons for choosing Shibori dyed methods are heavily influenced by this sustainability way of thinking.
- Shibori is an ancient hand crafted technique with a rich textile history that has used the same traditional process for centuries. This would suggest a good overall design concept and perhaps difficult to “improve upon” but it was challenge worth trying. The choice felt relevant when I considered the TED ethos of looking to historical models when designing for now and the future.
- Shibori is a labour intensive process and reliant solely on the skill and craft of the artist and therefore relates to “slow design” – one of the TED ten aspects in designing where the designer is engaged fully in the craft they are doing. During its creation the crafter will have to step away from the fast paced life of textile mass production and return to artisan way of working where each piece shows the hand of the crafts person. This makes it totally unique and as individual as it could possibly be. A concept far removed from machine driven textile design.
- Along with the technique of Shibori I felt I would also be able to learn a little about the traditional dye technique of indigo dye and perhaps some other Japanese ancient crafts, namely Sashiko (hand stitching) and the recycling craft of Boro stitching (Ancient Patchwork techniques). I did some hand stitching and although I did learn about Boro techniques in history I don’t believe it influenced my work in anyway.
- After reading a little history I knew I had made the right decision as Shibori was originally an art of the poor. In feudal Japan, many people could not afford to buy the expensive fabrics like cotton or silk, so clothes were usually made from hemp fabrics. Furthermore the Japanese people, usually farm or land workers could not afford to replace their clothes regularly so they would repair them, re-dye them and over dye them. And so the art of Shibori evolved as a means of making old clothes look new again. Having been looking at the wastefulness in our modern day clothes production this was the riding factor in choosing this technique.
Why did I choose indigo?
I did consider at one point not using indigo or even a blue and being less predictable by using other colours but after some consideration and looking at older dyed samples I had made in other colours I felt I was digressing too much from the very essence of the original craft and therefore losing sight of the historical aspect. I was keen not to create something that was “tie-dyed” and merely influenced by Shibori but to be as authentic and traditional as possible. I came to the conclusion that another colour would be for the sake of it to make it different (but not necessarily innovative) but actually there were far better reasons for staying with the original colour. I decided to revert to a true indigo, it being the oldest natural dye in history and authentic to this historical process. I used a convenient dye at home indigo pack and set up a traditional dye vat rather than use a synthetic “indigo” blue. It was actually incredibly easy to use and interesting too as the technique was very different to other dyeing techniques. I did get a shock to start with though as the instructions didn’t say the fabric would be lime green and then oxidises to blue !!
Although indigo is a “natural dye” I might assume is not harmful to the environment and therefore links in with the whole topic of sustainability but I am not as yet convinced that it is and for personal research I intend to research this more.
This was indeed a time consuming craft as first I needed to source suitable shapes for the resist technique and of course I needed at least 2 identical shapes to make the resist possible. I made a conscious effort to use recycled items to tie in with this section so used old CD’s, wood scraps found in a local skip and also some acrylic shapes that were originally intended for patchwork. I made an initial set of samples to see how the process worked (and recorded this with before and after photos in my sketchbook) and the effect of the technique before I knew how to make a more developed sample. It soon became clear that whilst my samples were pleasing that I might not be able to recreate the same effect again due to the serendipity of the technique or even on a larger scale ( something I would want to do if I was working professionally) due to the size of my resist shapes and clamps and the simple matter of how many times I could fold a fabric. More frustratingly as I had these limitations I felt pushed towards the obvious solution, and one that I had previously been keen to avoid, of patch working them together. I liked the element of surprise and I think this is attractive to creative designers but I needed some control in order to be able to develop a sample further. Working with these size limitations I needed to find a way of using what I could produce so I sampled some lighter weight fabrics and really liked the possibility of tones of the indigo being created by the translucency of the sheers. Although I have produced several samples I actually had many more left over so I had to be selective with each sample and be sure each offered something new and I wasn’t just being formulaic. The samples left over I have “catalogued” and written technique process notes on the reverse for future use. For the final sample I focused on 2 fabrics, cotton organdie and Hemp (hemp being a sustainable fabric and the traditional fabric for indigo dye. Hemp and indigo both being relevant for the sustainability aspect for this section – production and looking at historic models for influence) and used bold geometric shapes layering these together with some fine hand stitching (as a nod towards sashiko) to add texture and another dimension. Finally I included the “lolly sticks” from the dyeing process within the sample as they were too beautiful to ignore and were integral to the technique and appropriate to use from a less waste aspect. I am very pleased with my final sample as the visual effect is interesting but mainly because I have achieved dyeing the base hemp strip in one long thick resist and therefore not patchworked pieces together. Some lighter areas occurred dye to the thickness but I am happy with this as it adds the tones that I wanted to achieve with the over layering of sheers – a good example of embracing the serendipity effect of this technique. I terms of making a connection to my own work I feel I have made this unconsciously, perhaps the better kind of connection, as I have used a style of working that often appears in my work, being the layering and combining of fabrics with repeated shapes and elements and further embellishment with stitching.
Further information for the tutor
When time allows, and to extend my knowledge and this subject further I would like to explore other shibori techniques especially heat set shibori and how I may achieve this “at home”. I have used a heat press before to permanently heat set a polyester scarf into folds so I understand a little of the idea but would like to increase my knowledge. There is also the shibori felt technique so perhaps one day I may produce some work that incorporates the many different approaches that Shibori, as a general name, has to offer.
ADDED AFTERWARDS – IN RESPONSE TO THE TUTORS FEEDBACK I have added some indigo dyed hemp yarn taken from an unwanted sample to add a contrast to the plain cotton stitching.