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Natural Shibori Indigo Workshop in Japan

Are you interested in shibori and natural indigo?

Shibori means ‘tie’ or ‘squash’ in Japanese. There are so many ways to do shibori using sticks, planks, clamps, clips, string, sewing and rubber bands. Little kids and beginner grownups can start with rubber bands or crumpled fabric. If you have more time you can try other ways to bind and stitch. You can make really effective designs just by dipping the same piece of fabric multiple times, as each time the blue gets a darker shade. You can make gradient (ombre) and progressively darker stripes quite easily. The range of blues that you can get from one natural indigo vat is really one of it’s greatest assets. Its also why it lends itself so well to shibori pattern making. Some of the more complex methods take ridiculously long but are so satisfying when you see the results. Some of the simple methods look really advanced to the untrained eye!

Where is AiAii and how to get there?

AiAii is a natural indigo workshop in Sumoto, Japan. Sumoto is in the middle of Awaji Island (Awajishima).  Sumoto is a small town with lots of shops easily walk-around-able or you can rent a bike. Some people also travel by rent-a-car which can be very handy to get to out of the way places. We are close to Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto, if you are travelling that way. The best way to get to our workshop is by highway bus (we’d call that a coach in UK English) . They depart from Kobe, Sannomiya, and Osaka, Umeda at regular intervals. You can also catch the bus from Maiko station which is the closest train station to us, as there are no trains on this island.

 

Shibori Lessons in Japanese and English

AiAii is a family business. Sally (originally from the UK) and Junichi (from Hyogo, Japan). Between us we endeavor to facilitate workshops in Japanese and English. If you want to learn in another language we can try to find someone who can translate for you!

This time our friend Hikaru made 2 lovely cloths. One is a hankercheif and the piece on the right is for wrapping her obento lunch box in. She spent a long time winding thread around all those individual blobby circles. The handkercheif was a bit of experimental folding, with quite a surprising result!

Indigo leaves are fermented into a sort of compost called ‘sukumo‘. We add other natural ingredients and hot water to create and maintain a healthy indigo dyeing vat for a year or more. The P.H. and general health of the vat has to be carefully monitored. The four ingredients we sometimes use are:

Fermented indigo ‘sukumo

Wood ash

Wheat bran 

Shell lime powder

As we only use natural ingredients our products are gentle on the environment and on our bodies. We like to use cotton or linen, as they take on the dye really well. we like to re-use fabrics and old clothes too, its a great way to breathe life into stuff you don’t wear any more.