Shibori is a Japanese method of tying, folding, pleating and binding a fabric while dyeing it. Sort of like “tie dyeing” in the West, but much more highly developed, especially in terms of intricacy and symmetry. Shibori silks are often partially transparent and always designed with light in mind. This coincides with the range of dyes – indigo, madder, and purple root – that were originally used. These colors catch, allow to pass, or cause light to ‘bloom’ on the surface of the fabric. Silk and hemp were the original fabrics, dating from the 8th century. There are shibori dyed fabrics among the goods donated by the Emperor Shōmu to the Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara. A long way from tie-dyed cotton T-shirts.
These shibori-dyed silks are in a shop in La Jolla, the San Diego suburb. They feature newer colors, but their luminosity is still striking.