Teaching Art

I have been tie dyeing before Jerry Garcia joined the Grateful Dead! So, I thought I knew everything there was to know. WRONG! For starters, tie dying gets its name from the tieing and binding of the fabric, which I did not know. DUH!


I also didn’t know that tie dyeing that we now know today was spawned from traitional Japanese Shibori dyeing. The earliest known example of cloth dyed with a Shibori technique dates back to the 8th century. In fact, Shibori in Japanese means to compress, squeeze and/or wring fabric.

After learning more about the process, I purchased several indigo dyeing kits. I selected the brand that has been recommended by Cassie Stephens (shout out) to teach and facilitate a Shibori lesson for my Upper Primary students.


Using donated fabric, 10 X 10 inch fabric squares were cut then bound, squeezed, tied, pinched and compressed using rubber bands, popsicle sticks, PVC tubes and binder clips.


Students worked in groups of four to six and started by preparing the dye vat. The instructions that were included in the kit are very detailed and easy to follow.


After pre-soaking the tied fabric in a water bath, students started submerging the bound bunches into the dye vat. The fabric first turns green and then turns blue when oxidised by the air. SCIENCE!




Students dye dipped each piece four times allowing 20 minutes in between each dip to allow the colour to bloom. The goal is to achieve various values of the indigo pigment as it slowing reaches the compressed and squeezed areas.


After all of the fabric was rinsed throughly, they were hung to dry. Once dried and ironed, the squares will be used to make a quilt and then auctioned at our annual fundraising event in the spring.


img_0862If covered, the dye vat can be used for several days. So, I managed to dye some fabric for myself which I plan to turn into table napkins. SCORE!


Shibori is addictive – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Tie dye was just the gateway drug. I am now a full-blown Shibori addict! The pattern possibilities, brilliant blue hues and dramatic contrasts makes Shibori an exciting and fun trip…I mean, lesson…exciting and fun lesson.

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