OCELOT dye techniques:
ITAJIME + PLANT DYES
the folded fabric is opened after dyeing. This piece is all plant-dyed on a heavy organic blanket weight wool.
Itajime is a technique of physically resisting dye in order to create patterns.
This fascinating physical resist dye technique records a memory of the folds upon the cloth. As layers of dye interact, the edges bleed out in a subtle haze or leave a crisp line, showing the varied characteristics of the fiber and dyes.
The process involves folding the fabric carefully, then placing wood blocks on either side of the folded fabric. Pressure is then put on the blocks by using various methods of binding and clamping. By then immersing the bound fabric into the dye bath, the contrasting background creates a field out of which the luminous resist dyed shapes glow. The mirroring back and forth of the pattern creates a rhythm of pattern. This centuries old technique is thought to have originated in Japan.
Itajime is a laborious and physical dye process involving the elements fire and water, and requiring several days to complete the entire process. It can draw one in as the bold pattern seems to emit light.
Opening the clamped & dyed fabric: the 'monoprint' is a result of the dye transferring from dyed wood block to fabric, creating an actual print. itajime is not, however, a printing technique.
bound fabric: large scale pieces are bound using traditional board tying method
The fabric is first dyed a solid color with plant dyes, or sometimes synthetic dyes, before it is re-cut and then bound.
For plant and insect dyes, the fabric is first mordanted to prepare the fiber to bond with the dye in potassium alum, and let to cool overnight. Then, the base color is dyed. this will be the color of the pattern. Each step of the dye process takes about 3-4 hours. The fabric is then left to cool overnight each time, to let the dyes fully penetrate and affix to the fabric.
endless variations of itajime
The moment of releasing the clamps and opening the fabric reveal the repeated patterns and nuances within each piece which make it one of a kind. In Japanese, itajime literally means 'board bound resist dyeing'.
It is a dye technique of the greater category called "shibori', which is literally 'shaped and bound resist dyeing'.
In shibori, cloth is bound mechanically through being tied, stitched, compressed, knotted or formed in a myriad of ways. In traditional japanese itajime, the fabric is folded and compressed between pairs of rectangular boards secured with cording. Some other techniques, such as "kyokechi" use carved boards with holes or perforations in them to allow the dye the enter the intricate pattern.
There are endless variations on folding and binding cloth to create patterns that are dyed into the structure of the cloth. [ top ]
opening the fabric to reveal the pattern: this step requires a lot of water & washing to ensure that the excess dyes are thoroughly rinsed out
clamped folded fabric: the arrangement of the wood shapes, and where they line up through the folded stack of fabric, determines the pattern. the space around the resisted shapes, the 'negative space', must be considered carefully, for it is this 'background' that activates the shapes.
itajime drying on the line
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