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Neeru Kumar and the art of shibori

Renowned Indian textile artist and designer, Neeru Kumar has explored and experimented with the art of shibori over many years, and it has become a distinctive signature of her collections.

We are fortunate to have our classic and ever popular Juniper Hearth silk shibori kurta tops and Asha tops made for us in Neeru’s studio, and shibori techniques regularly feature in Neeru’s seasonal collections, on silk, silk/cotton and wool.

Shibori is a Japanese verb that translates "to wring, squeeze or press" and has come to apply generally to a range of textile dyeing techniques found across many cultures. All involve creating a "resist", either by tying, clamping, stitching or folding fabric by hand prior to dyeing, and thus affecting the areas that take up the colour.

Shibori is an alchemic process. There are fascinating variations in the colour and patterning as the dye and fabric meet, as it is impossible for even the finest artisan to completely control the final result. There is always an element of surprise when the fabric is unwrapped. This is the magic of shibori!

Pleated and bound resist

Neeru Kumar uses a number of methods to create the wonderful striped effects seen in our kurtas and Asha tops, and many of her beautiful scarves.

Using what is basically ag pipe, the fabric length is wrapped around the pipe, and then tied around each indent to create the "resist". The dye is then applied in bands. If the design is in more than one colour, then the process is repeated for a third or fourth colour.

       

Another variation is created by wrapping the fabric around a pipe, then scrunching it in towards the centre to create a multitude of fine pleats, securing the fabric at each end, before applying the dye.

    

Crisscross tying on the ridged pipe creates this gorgeous effect.

 

Stitched resist

In this technique, running stitches are made in straight lines, the thread is secured at one side then the fabric is pushed from the other end to gather it, and the threads are anchored to hold the gathers in place. Many of Neeru's beautiful silk pieces are dyed this way.

     

Folded resist

Here, the fabric is accordion folded in one direction, and then the other, creating a stacked square which is secured between two blocks. Only the edges of the fabric squares are thus exposed to the dye, creating a grid-like effect.

 

Each length of shibori dyed fabric is created completely by hand and is truly unique. Each garment made from shibori dyed fabric is a one off piece of textile artistry!