Itajime – Patterns on Japanese Paper

Itajime – Patterns on Japanese Paper

Wednesday October 9th, 2019 3 By Lena Fritzsche
Artec washizome

In May, shortly after my birthday, I had the opportunity to learn Itajime Zome (or Itajime Shibori). An art teacher from a Japanese middle school wanted to show me this dyeing technique and invited me into his classroom.
In this blog post, I want to show you how to imitate the technique quite simply. As you splash about a lot with water, a spot in the garden or park is good for it. Itajime is also great for children’s parties and hot summer days.


Materials

  • Japanese paper 和紙 (washi), unfortunately normal paper doesn’t work
  • Ink, food colouring or washi paper dye (for instance these or those)
  • Two small wooden boards or something similar
  • Water
  • Iron

Procedure

Find a place where it is okay if some water or ink got off the mark, so there are no unpleasant surprises at the end. You should also wear an apron and/or old clothes. Prepare some water in a bowl and then you can start.
Below you will find instructions on different folding techniques and patterns. You can follow these, or create your own patterns. Do not be disappointed if a pattern does not turn out the way you had imagined. They are always very different and each has its own character.

If you want to print a summary paper of all steps, you can download it here (it is written in Japanese, but based on the images you can tell the procedure even without language skills):

Step by Step

1. Fold the washi paper until the complete sheet is folded.

2. Dip the paper under water until it is completely soaked.

3. Press the surplus water out of the paper by placing it between the two boards and pressing hard.

4. Colour the paper with ink. Make sure that both sides and the edges are coloured to get a uniform pattern later. Sometimes it is better to use a little more ink than not enough.

5. Press the excess fluid out the paper again.

6. Unfold it carefully so that it does not tear. After the paper has dried, you can iron it smoothly.

 

 
Itajime Some shibori

Patterns and folding techniques

Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori

The Snail

https://blog.stoffundliebe.de/2019/09/11/designwettbewerb-dein-eigenes-design-auf-stoff/

The snail is a very interesting pattern. First you roll in the paper like a snail shell. Then you put on the ink in stripes all around the “snail shell”.

Shibori

Itajime Some shibori

Just like with fabric, you can do “Shibori Zome” with washi. How this works, I have described here.

Avoid these mistakes:

Itajime Shibori
Here I had forgotten to squeeze out the surplus water before dyeing. So in the end, when I put the paper between the boards, a lot of ink spilled out.
Itajime Some shibori
Unfortunately, the desired pattern was not created in the middle of the page, as the ink did not flow to the inside. This is difficult to control because you can’t see from the outside whether the ink has reached the inside of the paper. Therefore prefer to use a little more ink.
Itajime Some shibori
Please pile the sheets only when they are completely dry. Otherwise, the ink could bleed into other sheets, as can be seen in the photo.
Itajime Some shibori
Itajime Some shibori
Here I tried to use silver glittering ink. Unfortunately, the glitter particles were too big to soak the paper. That’s why you only see a little silver on the outer edges.
Itajime Some shibori
Almost the same thing happened here: although it was not a glittering ink, but a black one, the ink particles were too big to pass completely through the folded sheet. So, it varies from ink to ink, hence why not try different sorts.

 

Finished Patterns

You can use your finished artwork for anything. For example, Japanese elementary school students made fans from it. Of course, you can also glue it on other objects. Make sure that if your ink is water-soluble, it will not dissolve in the adhesive.

Itajime Some shibori

Here I have cut off a few “unpleasant” spots. The edges are usually a little messy, though still very pretty as paper strips. I can use these, for example, to decorate letters.