5 August 2011

Shibori Shrimp

Do you remember the little shibori shrimp that I prepared earlier? If not, please refer back to this post if you’d like to refresh your memory.

I had hoped to show you some really neat shibori-dyed fabric by now, but to be honest, things have not exactly worked out the way I planned.

It started well enough with the little shrimp, but when I applied dye to it, things started going wrong. I soaked the shrimp in soda ash solution (=fixative) according to the instructions, and started painting it with dye. As soon as I put brush to shrimp, though, I suspected that the result might not be what I had intended, because the fabric just soaked up the dye like a sponge.

Shrimp soup

I suspected that there would be very few white areas left after batching.

I was right

I’d mixed too much dye, so I used the leftovers for marbling another piece of fabric. I used the old ice cream tub method.

Marbled fabric

To return to the shrimp, I figured that the problem was a combination of moist fabric, thin dye solution, soft fabric and not tightening the strings enough. So I decided have another try with the same piece and a darker colour.

Shrimp number two

This time I didn’t soda soak the shrimp, but used thickened dye with soda ash added to the print paste instead. I figured that the dry cloth in combination with thick dye would stop the pigments from migrating too far into the fabric.

Shrimp stew

I was right, but…

This time something went wrong in the dyeing process. This is supposed to be overdyed with dark blue, so as you can see, the colour is very weak compared to the purple. The question is now: did I use too little soda ash, or are my dyes getting old? Perhaps both. It is a couple of years since I bought them, and I’ve read somewhere that they have a shelf life of approximately two years, so I think it’s probably time to use them and get new ones.

Again, I managed to mix more dye than I needed, so I did some monoprinting with the leftovers on fabrics that I’d dyed and discharged earlier, but wasn't happy with.

This one became my favourite.

There’ll be no more shrimps now until I’ve renewed my dyes. But rest assured, I’ve not given up. I will try it again, and succeed.


  1. Your shrimp shibori is wonderful. I love the look of stitched resist shibori, but it is so labor intensive. I have been experimenting with Jacquard's indigo kits with stitched and pole wrapped shibori. Too much fun! I tried wrapping with rope, scrap chain, & jute. I love how the different ties resulted in different textures. I hope you are having a wonderful summer.

  2. Thank you Jeannie!! Yes, the stitching is very labour intensive: I guess that's why I've been a bit disappointed with the result as it is. All that work, and not as striking as I had hoped. But I will return to this technique, because like you, I love the look of shibori. Thanks for the tip about other shibori techniques. I'll look into them. :)