Most of my indigo shibori work is in the form of upcycled scarves or relatively small (fat quarter size) pieces of cotton or linen.
This is for a couple of reasons. First, the plastic bucket that I rather grandiosely refer to as my indigo vat is not very large. And second, certain shibori techniques, especially those involving stitching, are rather time consuming to do, so the price I would have to charge for larger pieces quickly rises to stratospheric levels. :-0
So although I get regular enquiries via my Etsy shop for larger pieces, I usually turn them down. However, recently I had a request for three pieces of fabric about 1.5m x 1.5m in the honeycomb pattern (below), so I thought I would have a go.
This pattern is produced by rolling the fabric around a rope and then compressing it, so no time-consuming stitching is involved, and once it is compressed it is small enough to fit in the vat.
The challenge with a larger piece of fabric lies in trying to keep the fabric straight as you roll it, and then compressing that thickness of fabric tightly enough to get a clear pattern across the whole area of the fabric. You also have to squeeze the fabric hard when dipping it in the indigo to get the dye to penetrate the inner layers as much as possible.
I dipped them all on the same day to try to ensure consistency of colour across all three pieces. My right hand in particular was quite sore after rolling, compressing and squeezing all three. Undoing and rinsing these larger pieces was also a bit of an effort to avoid splashing blue water all over the kitchen floor!
However, the pieces came out pretty well and consistent. Here they are drying on the line.
The customer used them to make three Roman blinds, and I was delighted when she sent me a photo of one of the finished products. :)
I’ve since had another custom order for a larger piece of fabric in this pattern, which also went well.
However, given the frequency of requests for larger pieces, I am considering the possibility of scanning some of the more time-consuming patterns to produce digital files that could be used to print larger lengths of fabric. Clearly these would not be handmade (though they would be based on original handmade patterns), and there would be obvious repeats. But it would be quicker and cheaper to produce larger pieces.
What do you think? Is the one-off handmade aspect more important to you? Or would you prefer to pay less for a digitally printed reproduction?