Review: Beginners Shibori Class with Romor Designs

In the centre of a crisp white room at Craft Central a pair of tables was neatly set out with fabrics, needles, threads, beads and books. This was beginners Shibori with Rob Jones of Romor Designs.

Shibori is the ancient Japanese art of resist patterning cloth. A range of tools, such as threads, beads, poles and clamps, are used to create areas of resist to dyes, and thereby a pattern in the fabric. Any natural fabric (linen, cotton or silk) can be bound up and then dyed to create patterned fabrics. In this lesson, Rob was teaching basic binding and stitching methods, and indigo dye.

There were four of us in the class. Christine McDougall who spotted the course at the back of a Craft Central mailing, James Roberson who found the course through a leaflet and Maya Silva whose mother had bought the class as a present. The four of us settled in and Rob began by explaining the background to Shibori, passing round some exquisite Japanese made samples. It wasn’t long before he had us working.

Beginners Shibori Stitching and Binding class at Craft Central, with Rob Jones of Romor Designs. The small class means there is a lot of individual attention.

The first technique was Kamosage, a bead and thread method. Rob demonstrated a couple of times before, we had a go. It was a little tricky to start with, but once mastered it was straight forward.

After a little practising, we moved on to Kanoko, which involved pinching the fabric and using the Kamosage knot to secure the pinch. At each stage, Rob showed us samples of the results we would obtain, and how these simple techniques could be combined to create patterns and designs.

The final technique was Kumo, the spiderweb, which involves tying thread around a cone of fabric

Once we were satisfied with our sample piece, the class moved out to the corridor where the dye buckets were stored. Rob explained a little of the science behind indigo and the dyeing process. First, the fabric has to be soaked in water, then it is immersed in the dye. We left our samplers to soak in water and returned to the classroom.

Christine looks on as Rob shows how the stitching and binding acts as a resist to the dye, resulting in patterns on the fabric.

The next three techniques involved stitching: a simple running stitch, a running stitch with folded fabric and a twist stitch. From this simple beginning, we quickly progressed to more complex effects, achieved using these simple stitches.

Again, once the sampler was finished, it was dropped into the water, while the first thoroughly soaked piece was moved to the indigo bucket and either held for a while or left to soak. While the samplers soaked up the indigo, we worked on designs for our tote bags.

James and Maya hold their samples in the water. The dyed fabric comes out a yellow green, but quickly changes colour as it dries, turning into the classic indigo blues.

Our two and a half hours flew by. Practising the various techniques was strangely therapeutic and relaxing. Each method requires patient concentration which forces away the stresses and strains of the day. Once you get into a rhythm it is almost hypnotic and very relaxing. The small, intimate class was a comfortable and easy going environment in which to learn, and James helped us all by asking plenty of questions.

For me, it was all over too quickly. My dyed samplers were taken home to dry out before unpicking and the tote bag came home with me as I considered my design options. I wasn’t done with Shibori and am taking the beginners Itajime class, which teaches the basic folding and clamping processes, and the intermediate class, which teaches more complex patterns.

Beginners Shibori with Rob Jones is a fun, relaxed and creative evening out. There is something almost magical, but certainly entertaining, about Shibori dyeing. As a natural process, there is no way to know, for sure, in advance how the dye will take and therefore, how the pattern will turn out. That uncertainty can be frustrating, but it also results in some wonderful accidents and each piece is unique.

My work: on the left is a sampler of the binding technique and on the right, the stitching. It was purely accidental, but wonderful, how the stitches came together to form a flower.

In addition, Shibori is relatively inexpensive to practice at home with dye kits containing everything you need easily available. Before you know it you’ll be dying t-shirts, shirts, skirts, babygrows and linens!

This is a great beginners class. The relaxed easy going atmosphere means each person can progress at their own pace. Rob encourages experimentation and has lots of advice about how to achieve certain effects or patterns. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed!

Please note: this is not a sponsored post. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

Useful Links: Romor Designs, Craft Central


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