I’m not sure when it became proper practice to refer to hippie tie dye as the rather more fancy sounding shibori, but that I will do. In truth, I think there is a subtle difference; 60’s-inspired tie dye tends to be quicker with more immediate and colourful results, whereas shibori is controlled, and looks directly to intricate (and ancient) Japanese binding, stitching and folding techniques. Shibori is often dyed using natural indigo – but by no means always – and the boundaries between the two techniques are definitely faint and blurry!
These photographs are from a shibori workshop I went to in the summer, led by textile artist Janice Gunner at the beautiful Cowslip Workshops in Launceston, Cornwall. Cowslip is based in several converted barns on a dairy farm, so while you are at work, you can hear the cows mooing and enjoy the view across bright green fields.
I spent two days making samples and trying out different techniques. First stitching, twisting and tying the cloth to create various resist patterns, before immersing the fabrics in buckets of deep indigo and lighter woad. When the indigo-dyed fabric is exposed to air, it is transformed from iridescent scarab beetle green to that perfect shade of deep, deep blue. It is almost a magical process and the reason many people get hooked on blues.
There are so many amazing wall hangings around at the moment. I love that this craft is enjoying a resurgence as I’ve always been partial to a bit of fibre art – the weirder the better for me. I caught up with rising star of the scene Maryanne Moodie to find out more about her work.
How and when did you start weaving?
About three years ago. I was searching for a craft to pursue and when I found weaving, something inside me just turned on. I was hooked! What materials do you use and how long does each piece take?
I use all types of yarn and textiles in my work. I use lots of vintage yarn as well as small batch, hand spun and hand dyed wool. I also use handmade beads sometimes, as well as things I find at the hardware store. What do you enjoy most about the process?
I enjoy working closely with my clients to ensure I create a piece that is wholly them. It will be a piece that has the privilege of hanging in their personal private spaces. I want to create a piece that will bring good vibrations into their homes and their lives. Where do you sell?
I sell only via commission at the moment. I feel so lucky that I can enjoy the process in an individual way that is different for each client. Do you have any plans for the future?
Yes, I am setting up weaving classes in NYC and Australia and I am commissioning a carpenter to help me put beginners weaving kits together. I am also filming an online weaving course that I hope to have live in April/ May. All very exciting!
To see more of Maryanne’s work, please visit her website or follow her on Instagram.
I am always impressed by small businesses who concentrate on making beautiful products, simply and well. Folk Fibers is one such company and they make exquisite quilts, all stitched entirely by hand and coloured using natural dyes.
Maura Grace Ambrose founded the company in Austin, Texas. She organically grows, harvests, and forages for natural dyes in the local area, focusing on substantive or direct dyes, such as indigo, cochineal, walnut hulls, and onion skins. “I favour substantive dyes because colourfast fabrics are achieved without the aid of chemical additives, known as a mordants. Without the need for mordants the dying process becomes simplified and enjoyable, as well as kind to the environment.”
Often Maura patchworks the dyed fabric together with other materials, both vintage and new. She is committed to using 100% natural fibres and chooses solid colours for their timeless appeal. Personally I think the indigo wholecloth designs with white shashiko stitching above, are some of the most beautiful quilts I have seen. As Maura explains, “my passion for quilting is rooted in the love and beauty achieved from hand stitching. The art of hand quilting does take more time, but the results are greater and more valuable than a manufactured quilt.”
Each finished piece also comes in a handmade cedar box, which is almost (but not quite!) as good as the completed quilts themselves.
Crazy Wind is a clothing line based in Portland, Oregon, made using traditional Japanese kasuri fabric. Kasuri is a Japanese ikat and features specifically dyed fibres woven together to create blurred patterns and images. It’s a special technique and designer Chiyo Takahashi, who was born in Japan, searches and sources the best authentic kasuri, directly from Japan. Chiyo’s mother Hatsuyo Takahashi, also helps her find the material, making the brand a family affair.
The name Crazy Wind comes from a Japanese word “Fuukyo-“, which means insanity, a mad man or a person obsessed with their art. The word “Fuukyo-“ is constructed with two characters, “Wind” and “Crazy”. Chiyo found a calligraphy drawing of “Fuukyo-” made by her father, years before he passed away. “I have no idea about the backstory of this drawing, when he made it or why he made it, but I loved how he redrew the word “Wind” with this angry looking gorilla character, which my mother claimed was his self-portrait. It was as though he was saying “Be crazy and go your own way!” I hope this word will encourage the customers who wear Crazy Wind as much as it has encouraged me.”