I have been experimenting with using indigo dye and traditional Japanese shibori techniques on paper, rather than on fabric. I am ecstatic with the results — the paper took the indigo dye as well or better than fabric typically does.
Preparing the Paper
First I prepared some of my paper for dyeing by hand pleating, binding and stitching it. I took some ideas from shibori techniques like itajime (bound resist dyeing) and nui shibori (stitch resist dyeing) and combined them to see what the results would be. Traditionally, any stitching is done by hand, but I chose to use my sewing machine to see if that would work. I was very happy that it did, and it saved me many hours of hand stitching.
In the image above, the pleated and stitched/bound paper is on the left. On the right are some of the paper pieces after dyeing along with a few sheets of printmaking paper (BFK Reves) that I simply dipped multiple times into the indigo vat.
After dyeing each stitched bundle multiple times, I carefully took out the stitching with a seam ripper, opened up the paper, and put it on drying racks in the sun. The resulting patterns surprised and delighted me.
I then used pieces of the paper and stitched them together into the compositions shown at the top of the page. My Singer Featherweight sewing machine worked great for the stitching process: not bad for an 85-year-old piece of equipment!
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