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Shibori - Japanese Tie-Dye

Shibori experiments

Shibori is a Japanese resist dying technique dating back to the 8th century. The cloth can be bound, stitched, folded, twisted or compressed. Traditionally indigo dye was used giving a deep blue colour to the fabric.

At school Y4 have been reading Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. This has inspired our outdoor learning sessions and inspired me to find out more about Japanese crafts. One of the main characters is Japanese and the book is filled with examples of beautiful things he makes. We have tried simple tie dye before so this seemed like a great way to experiment further. I used some of the left over calico pieces from last year and got creative.

Ready for the dye bath

We are out in February and March so the blackberries we have used before have long gone. I thought turmeric would give good results as well as being cheap & easy to get hold of. I added turmeric powder to the hot water and alum to act as a mordant. A mordant is simply a substance that fixes the dye to the fabric and gives a better colour. I only needed a small amount of alum so bought it as fatakadi powder from an asian supermarket.

In the dye bath

I love doing this with the children. It challenges their fine motor skills as they wrestle with elastic bands, it fires up their imagination as they start to experiment and it catches their curiosity as they play about with different techniques.


As is often the case all this experimenting led me to some other interesting techniques like sashiko. I used some more leftovers and had a go. It's up on the washing line in our outdoor learning camp as a bit of inspiration. It's also great to carry in my pocket as I am waiting for the class to arrive...

Sashiko doodles

I would love to see your experiments too.

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