Whether it’s a delft blauw pottery painting class in Amsterdam or deepy dyed indigo pillows at our Texas Ranch home, I just love how grounding and serene indigo is in the home. I was so excited when Hill Country-bred textile artist Melissa of Happy Mess Studio moved to Oak Cliff here in Dallas and start offering Shibori classes near me.
Melissa’s shibori workshops are as entertaining and educational as they are fun and productive! I always learn so much about plant dyeing while making something that looks so luxe. I treasure things I make with Melissa for years to come. While I’ve made blankets and pillow shams with her before, this trip to the studio I was making coordinating onesies and baby blankets for friends using indigo and cochineal dyes. I had so much fun!
What is Shibori Dyeing?
Melissa shared with me,
“To put it in simple terms it is the traditional Japanese version of tie-dye. It uses different tying and clamping techniques to create unique patterns. Shibori comes from the term Shiboru which means to wring and squeeze. It is an umbrella term that encompasses endless ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for dyeing, and each way results in very different patterns. The possibilities are endless.
Japanese Shibori dates back to the 8th century but gained popularity in the country in the 1600’s. Working and/or lower class people couldn’t afford fabrics like silk and cotton so they used the Shibori technique to dye hemp clothing in order to elevate the overall aesthetic and perceived value of their clothing.”
How to Start Using Natural Dyes
Melissa wanted us to know,
“Shibori is typically paired with indigo which is a natural dye coming from the indigophera plant. This plant being used as a dye has been dated back 4,ooo years. The plant itself does not show any blue in their leaves, stems or flowers. Rather the color indigo is achieved by fermenting the leaves of certain plant varieties to create indigo dye. The process of dyeing with indigo is a unique one because it uses oxidation to adhere the dye to the fabric.
Once the fabric has been folded and a pattern has been created, you slowly dip the fabric into the dye vat and when it comes time to pull it out the fabric goes from a bright green and then oxidizes to the indigo blue you are used to seeing. It’s a beautiful process to see how this color is affected by nature.”
SHOP THE POST
There is so much involved in Shibori dyeing, from the unique chemistries of the natural dyes, the precision we want in the vats and the intricacies of folding. My mind is working the whole time! I particularly love using workshops with practicing artists for crafts like Shibori that require a lot of investment of time and funds to create the idea making space. Having worked with Melissa at her home studio as well as her space in Mission Arts Oak Cliff, I have been so calm and happy dyeing, dipping and dripping all over Melissa’s workspace as she guides me through the process.
I love learning new folding and binding techniques from Melissa that I can use at home for projects like her tutorial on how to dye with avocado at home.
Of course, there’s no one better than Melissa to explain it herself!
“My indigo dyeing class is a hands-on private workshop. You will learn the history of indigo dyeing, the fundamentals of creating a dye vat, and the basics of both stitched and folded/clamped Shibori techniques. We will play around with fabric manipulation so you can create beautiful patterns on fabric with indigo dye. Each student will walk away with an understanding of dyeing fabrics with natural indigo as well as creating practice swatches and a final project like a scarf to take home.”