Jane Callender

Phew! Back in London after an intensive three days in Norfolk with Jane Callender (“Cally”) at her shibori summer school. I couldn’t get a phone signal at her house, and even at my godmother’s there was no Wi-Fi or 3G – only ve-e-e-r-y slow 2G, so I’m afraid I couldn’t post any progress reports on location.

There were four of us on the course. Two – Isabelle from Berlin and local Norfolk resident Jennifer – had never done any shibori. By contrast, Marilyn from Warwick had been to the summer school twice before.

Cally specialises in stitched shibori, and there were plenty inspiring examples of her work hanging around her studio – some of them are below. You can also see some in her gallery. The previous weekend she had taken part in the Harleston and Waveney Art Trail, so it was a very busy time for her!

As well as explaining the history of indigo and the different techniques, Cally was very good at emphasising the importance of planning the design. She says that the difference between the hippie reputation of tie dye and the modern practice of shibori is in the placing and planning of the design. She has also made this much easier by producing stencils in various forms to simplify the planning stage!

Because Cally does a lot of stitch resist shibori, she prefers to use a darker vat so that the patterns are crisper and you get a range of mid blues when the fabric is pulled up. I found that this also works well for arashi, especially when pleats are involved (more of this in a later post). However, we had three vats of different concentrations to choose from if we wanted some paler shades of blue.

Cally also works with other natural dyes, such as iron rust, but we didn’t really have time to experiment with these while I was there.

Next post I’ll talk about some of the work that we did ourselves during the summer school.


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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

3 thoughts on “Jane Callender”

  1. You were so lucky to be able to have the opportunity to learn from such a master. I have long admired Jane’s work – her art is truly amazing. Please keep us posted, as to what you were able to make – it’ll be good to see, too. What’s an iron rust vat? Does she get rusted colouring with her shibori stitching? Wow.


  2. Chrissie – I did make a couple of silk pieces. Cally also suggested backing up cotton scrim or gauze onto a heavier piece of cotton if I want to stitch it before dyeing, and then removing the backing before I felt it.

    Jennifer – I had a fantastic time. Cally also makes shibori pieces using ferrous sulphate crystals (“iron rust”), which produce an orange colour – see http://www.callishibori.co.uk/products. In the third photo above she used iron rust underneath the indigo – you can’t see it very well in my photo, but in real life there’s an orange-brown tinge underneath the circles.

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