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Shibori-style dyeing for nuno felt

Having had a go at screen printing on fabric during a recent workshop, I was inspired to try out more fabric dyeing.

I have no access to screen printing equipment, so I turned to a beautiful book on Shibori dyeing instead (“Shibori for Textile Artists” by Janice Gunner) given to me a few years ago by my good friend Sophie, who clearly knows me well enough to know that I would one day need it.

I tried out various beginners’ techniques but the one I like best (and not just because it is the easiest!)

is what the author calls ‘honeycomb Shibori’. Not strictly Shibori, it involves rolling up the fabric around some string and then tying it into a donut shape before putting it in the dye bath. The result (especially when over dyed with a second or third colour) is a gradually fading mottled pattern very reminiscent of; you guessed it, a honeycomb. The resulting patterns vary between different fabrics; loose wave chiffon produced a much sharper and ‘tighter’ pattern than a closer weave silk pongee.

I also tried some stitch resist techniques such as wood grain, but on a large piece of fabric this is incredibly labour intensive and some of the details could get lost in nuno felting, when the fabric can shrink a lot and as a result become quite puckered. It felt a bit like my birthday to unwrap and untie each parcel of fabric as it came out of the dye bath and I was really delighted with the results. The recent spate of sunny weather helped to dry the silk in no time and I’ve started using the fabric in a variety of nuno felt wraps which I intend to show at the Open House Arts Trail in July.

First samples of honeycomb ShiboriFirst samples of honeycomb Shibori on silk chiffon

A much subtler effect on pongee silkA much subtler effect on pongee silk

My little helpersMy little helpers

Felting onto some of the dyed fabricFelting onto some of the dyed fabric

Nuno felt using some of the dyed fabric (detail)Nuno felt using some of the dyed fabric (detail)

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