L’Heure Bleu: Shibori Indigo
Dyeing Workshop at Lost Wax Studio

Okay, I am officially an Indigo Girl. Obsessed, entranced, enchanted. Dying for blueblueblue dyeing. Last week, Lost Wax Studio’s talented Tam Tran invited me to dip into deep blueness with her Shibori workshop,* an ancient, traditional Japanese dyeing method, and now (sorry for the pun) the dye has been cast. As we speak, I am searching for both a huge cooking pot and the makings of an indigo-dyeing kit, which exists at every local art supply store.

Wednesday night, our illustrious leader Shono, a major textile artist based here in NYC, showed us the way, teaching a group of about seven of us the tricks of the trade, presenting us with ideas of what result each technique might bear. Then we all started binding, rubber-banding, clamping, sewing or tying the fabrics and fashions we’d brought along to transform and upcycle.
Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

You must use all natural fibers….so I started with an upcycled silk bracelet I’d made:

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

…after binding, you then immerse the piece in water to soak it completely, gently wringing it out  before placing it gingerly in the indigo dye mix. Don’t stir the contents or push the fabric in and out; you don’t want the dye mix to oxidize with oxygen until the piece has fully soaked and is ready to come out into the air, about 4-5 minutes. The deeper dye results desired, the longer you soak. Then unwrap, de-rubber band, unclamp, gingerly squeeze out excess dye into a separate bucket and hang to oxidize and dry on a rack.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Some examples of what I did and how they turned out. Below, a frilly prairie skirt from What Goes Around Comes Around bound into a tight ball that started out with accordion pleats. I ended up dyeing it a second time – rolling it from the top with a string and pulling it like a loop to add more indigo dye – after the first go-round left too much white space for my taste. The end result hangs below.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Shono helped me roll my silk shirt, a dollar store-purchased gift from a friend, around some PVC piping to create a striation effect. Result shown in next pic.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

One of my Loup Charmant slip dresses, rubber banded with rocks, and then rolled from the top:

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

 

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

I used heart-shaped wooden cut-outs at the bodice, buttons at the neckline and a flag-folding technique on the sleeves to create interest on this Alice Roi blouse, purchased at a Brooklyn-based thrift store with friend and FashionFarmBoy blogger / Goodwill Ambassador Bjorn Nasett.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Accordion pleats and knots tied at the hem worked magic on this ecru linen shift.

IMG_2947Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Tam’s upcycled leopard print linen shorts turned out lovely, unique and au currant.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Christina’s vintage silk sleep dress.

Lost Wax Studio Shibori Workshop

Each dyed piece results in a one-of-a-kind art work, great for recycling, refreshing, refurbishing favorite fashions or just styles you never wear anymore. Make sure you wash the whole dyed batch in cold water after each dye-processed piece has dried (do NOT use detergent, a mistake I made which, sadly, faded my indigo profusely). You want to make certain no dye fades onto your skin. But even if it does, don’t worry – indigo has natural antibacterial properties! Indigo…good for you, good for the planet.

*Tam’s raison d’être for Shibori dyeing: “Due to increased awareness of the human impact on our environment and recent concerns over ethical garment production overseas, I wanted to explore new ideas how consumers can incorporate traditional craft techniques and applications to what they already own and refresh our belongings for a more relevant and stylish update to our lifestyle instead of going out and buying more. The research and exploration of this concept led me to create a series of workshops RECYCLE/REDESIGN/REMAKE, where the focus will be on learning different low impact and simple techniques and apply them in an aesthetic way to recycle and reuse things we already own. As in our other workshops, we will not only learn techniques but also incorporate a holistic point of view through the design process, making using quality raw materials and working with knowledgeable experienced designers/makers.” Tam Tran

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