Shibori on a larger scale

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.

fq honeycomb1

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.

curtain1 curtain2 curtain3

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. 🙂

shibori blind

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?

Quick update

I’m heading north tomorrow to Edinburgh, via various bits of Yorkshire and Tyneside, for a felting workshop with Andrea Noeske-Porada at Hat in the Cat. Very excited at the thought of being able to produce origami felt pieces like this!

ANP origami

I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of indigo dyeing this week, producing two scarves/stoles. This gold silk dupion is a heavier weight than I normally use, but it took the indigo very well, the colour shading from deep blue on one edge to paler hues of blue-green on the other.

gold dupion

This lighter magenta silk wrap also took the colour well. It’s difficult to see the pattern clearly in the photo because of the transparency of the silk, but it resembles very funky tiger stripes!

pink tiger

I’ll be putting these up in my Etsy shop when I get back from Scotland. Talking of which, there’s a 10% sale on until 14 August to celebrate the end of Mentoring Month. Many of the makers who took part in the mentoring exercise are participating in the sale, so there’s a lovely range of items – go and have a look! The discount code is MMSALE – happy shopping!

Flextiles on Etsy

scarf-turquoise-geometricOne of the reasons I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front is that I’ve been taking part in Etsy Mentoring Month with Makerhood.

I’ve steered clear of online shops in the past because frankly I was a bit overwhelmed at having to find suitable packaging, calculate postage and not least take decent photos (hah!). Or maybe I’m just lazy. 🙂

Besides, I like meeting people at fairs and markets and talking to them about my work, seeing what they pick up and what questions they ask – all good market research!

However, the opportunity came up to work with a partner for a month, helping each other critique existing shops or set up a new one, with weekly meet-ups to share experiences and problems. So I thought I’d take the plunge and – ta da! – here is my Etsy shop.

banner title

It’s looking very blue at the moment, as the only packaging I have is for scarves and fat quarters, but I’ll be adding some more colourful felt at some stage. 🙂

I also need to work on the photos – I’m finding it particularly difficult to photograph the larger scarves, and I need some “lifestyle” shots of the scarves actually being worn rather than just laid out (if I can find a willing model).

fq-stripes-circles-angleWorking with a partner under the mentoring scheme has been great, and knowing that you have to report progress each week is a real motivation – if I’d been left to my own devices it would inevitably have gone to the bottom of my “to do” list.

And I’ve learned an awful lot about photography, tagging, writing descriptions and shop policies, branding… in fact, I’ve learned that if anything I underestimated how much work it would be!

With more than 1 million new members joining Etsy every month, heaven only knows how anyone will find me or my work (which explains the importance of tagging and SEO).

I’m not going to stop doing real-world markets – my scarves sold well at the Summer Tumblr at the Garden Museum, and I like meeting other makers as well as buyers.

But if you have any tips or advice on selling through Etsy, do let me know!