This August, together with my friend Miki I visited the small town of Arimatsu near Nagoya-city to attend a small workshop on shibori (Japanese batik technique).
Using vegetable dyes, especially indigo, the people in Arimatsu started tie-dyeing cotton and other fabrics about 400 years ago. They soon developed over a hundred different ways of creating distinctive textile patterns with knots and laces. Travelers passing the Tokaido (the main trade route of the Edo era, connecting Kyoto to Edo) bought goods like yukata (summer kimono) and tenugui hand towels to mop up sweat. In this way, Arimatsu-Shibori became known throughout Japan. Demand has continued to the present day, and local dyers who have inherited the techniques continue to make Japanese clothing and other traditional items in Arimatsu.
Before dyeing, the textile is processed, covering various parts of the fabric in order to create a pattern. For example, if you place the fabric around a small ball and knot it together with a string, after dyeing, at the point where the fabric was tied together, you will see a white ring. Wood stencils that are pressed onto the fabric with screw clamps can also be used to reproduce many other shapes (as you can see on Miki’s cloth).
I chose “Hebi” (Japanese for snake), with the fabric folded into narrow strips and then tied together. The result was a bamboo pattern, to which I have added foliage by simply tieing the upper part of the cloth wildly and only dyeing this part. That’s how a whole bamboo forest came to be.
Have you (maybe as a child) ever tried batik techniques or have you even perhaps been to Arimatsu?