Back to shibori printing

After the scarf and pencil roll production line over the past few weeks, it was good to get back to Morley for a day of play and experimentation.

This week we started our eight-week printing block with tutor Mark. It seems odd that this time a year ago I had never done any printing and knew nothing about it. This time I feel like an old hand, helping others coat their screens and finding my way around the binders and pigments with more confidence.

I wanted to continue my experiments combining shibori techniques with screenprinting, which I started last year. I’d prepared some pieces of cotton stitched in parallel rows, as if for mokume (woodgrain) shibori.

Using an open screen, I printed one of these with puff binder. Even normal transparent binder results in a ridged, textured surface – I wanted to see if I could exaggerate this, making it even more 3D.

Pleated fabric printed with puff binder
After printing before pulling the pleats open
After pulling the pleats open
detail of puffed pleats
Detail of puffing in the heat press

When I put the piece in the heat press, it didn’t puff up consistently – I’m not sure why this was. Mark wondered whether the binder was too old. And I think that next time it would be better to remove the threads before using the heat press, as it’s more difficult when the binder has puffed up and set. 🙂 Might be interesting to try this with flock binder as well.

With the other piece I cut three paper circles to use as resists and put them on top of the pleated fabric before printing.

As I opened the pleats, the circles extended to become elliptical – and the pattern was much less distinct when viewed straight on.

However, when viewed from an angle, the ridges are much more apparent, and the pattern reappears. The lower the angle of viewing, the clearer the pattern.

It’s an interesting feature, though I’m not sure how I might use it yet. Maybe a lantern or something that is viewed from below?

All suggestions welcome! 🙂

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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%.

6 thoughts on “Back to shibori printing”

    1. Shibori comes in many different guises, Hilary – maybe you just haven’t found the right one yet! 😉

      And thanks so much for the Margaret Ramsay link – fascinating blog! Janice Gnner wrote one of my favourite books about shibori – must see if she’s running any more workshops.

  1. I think you are getting an effect I am striving for. To keep some of the shibori pleating more permanent by using an acrylic based printing binder. Instead of the puff medium, would the faux suede effect medium work better? It does puff a bit but has a softer feel.
    And have you tried adding in any mica pigments to the binders? I have been using automotive paint pigment and micas instead of ‘art’, crafting or cosmetic sources. Significantly lower cost. My source is and some of the special effect ‘flip’ chameleon or interference micas are awesome.
    I’ll be trying various mixes of print binder on some samples with a combination of dyeing, print binder and micas and possibly some mistyfuse over it. I want to keep the pleating more permanent but not give it too stiff a hand on the fabric. Thanks for the great blog!

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comment and further ideas about using different binders and additives.

      I confess that I haven’t done much screenprinting in recent years, but I’m glad you found my blog useful. Good luck with your experiments – let us know how you get on!


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