Imagine being underwater, watching a wave crash overhead. Now imagine how that might look in an abstract, hand-dyed print. The image embodies the spirit of imagination and innovation at Shibori, a textile agency, dyer, creative collaborator and workshop space.
Shibori is a form of resistance dyeing dating back to eighth-century Japan. In pure shibori, there are particular ways to fold, tightly bind and indigo-dye natural fabrics such as cotton or silk. When the bindings are removed, repeating patterns of white space appear amid myriad shades of blue.
Pepa Martin and Karen Davis met in design school at East Sydney Technical College in 2004. Since then they’ve been refining their own version of shibori, travelling to Japan to study with masters, and contemporising dyeing techniques.
With a chemist they created a dye that would work on leather. Shibori now collaborates with handbag designers such as Sydney’s Karmme, and on interior projects such as Thai restaurant Long Chim.
In Stanmore, Shibori’s retail store is at the front of a workshop space. It sells things such as dyed cushions, homewares and offcuts of fabric and leather. The pieces are hand-dyed and made in a Botany workshop.
Teamwork is at the heart of this business, and Martin and Davis often find collaborators for future projects in their workshops, where they teach the art of shibori. The sessions are a chance to share with students, experiment with techniques and see where the dye takes them.