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Learning the craft of Shibori

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This is Leong Minyi of Mai Textile Studio, she is a textile artist who runs shibori and sashiko workshops in Singapore. Shibori is a Japanese fabric dyeing technique, where indigo dye is commonly used, while sashiko is a Japanese embroidery technique used to reinforce fabric. She also specialises in katazome, which is another dyeing technique, but the fabric pattern is created using a stencil. In the above photo, Minyi is holding a stencil which she has been working on, it is an arduous process of cutting shapes by hand.

I spent my Saturday afternoon learning how to dye a tenugui – a cotton hand towel measuring 35cm x 98cm. The workshop goes for 5 hours, mainly because of the manual and repetitive effort required to adhere the desired deep, indigo colour on the fabric. But it’s all worth it in the end, when you see the result. There are eight 10-minute sessions of steeping your tenugui, and in between, you expose the fabric to the air to oxidise the dye.

But first, we need to fold the cloth. There are several folding techniques, and we learnt some basic ones.

20161119_130614-copyThen we tied, clamped and/or sewed our tenugui, and soaked it before we immersed it in dye.20161119_135747-copyThis is a vat of indigo dye, where we took turns to steep our tenugui in groups of three.

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After almost three hours, it was time for the grand reveal.

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We then cut the strings and unfolded our tenugui…

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I found all the designs beautiful. As you can tell, we are all so pleased with ourselves 😀

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Photo courtesy of Mai Textile Studio

I hope to attend more shibori classes with Minyi next year, when she offers intermediate classes.

Incidently, she learnt her craft in Fujino, Kanagawa, where I recently WWOOFed at. I was also briefly introduced to her teacher, Bryan Whitehead, by a member of staff at the restaurant I was working at.

By the way, Minyi also accepts orders for customisation. She showed us this lovely bag that she created for a client. To see her collection of clothing and accessories, and to find out about her workshops, check out her website and Facebook page!

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