Shibori Home Decor Process

I rarely post photos of my process, primarily because I forget to take pictures while I’m “in the zone.”  Today is an exception as I actually took a few photos of one of my current projects.   I have been commissioned to create some shibori-ed home decor pieces for an upscale interior design firm in Redondo Beach, CA. So here’s what’s happening in my studio this week!


Double arashi-ed piece ready for its second dye immersion.
Double arashi-ed piece ready for its second dye immersion.
double arashi-ed piece, ready for the second dye bath
Koi-themed resist piece.  This is the raw fabric with my image, showing the (slightly) colored resist, pre-indigo dyed.  I made traditional rice paste resist, then thinned it and put in a drop of light blue watercolor so that I could see my image. Hoping that the watercolor does not deposit into the fiber! The completed piece will be shown soon. ©Brett Barker


More Kids’ Clothing on my Website

New children’s shibori pieces are here!  Each bespoke piece is created using natural, non-toxic materials, sometimes even using natural dyes I have created and used on my silk scarves.  The “dots and dashes” dress below features a natural green dye created from the ivy growing in my backyard.  The dress itself is made by young women in Tiraque, Bolivia, working in their own micro-enterprise created through grants, private donations, and a partnership with Dharma Trading Co.

grndotsgirls no back

This dress, as well as other clothing items, accessories/scarves, and fine art wall hangings can be found under the “Peace. Love. Shibori.™” tab at the Brett Barker Design Studio website.  Note: ALL images on this blog & all original shibori pieces are copyrighted.

Shibori Influences

Many things are influencing my year-long “shibori intensive” (see the “About…” page for more info), including a trip to the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena this past spring.  It is unreal to think, as you stroll along the 120-acre idyll, that ONE PERSON created it all and ONE family utilized the estate as their home.  Poor things.  🙂

Walking along the “Japanese” portion of the Huntington Gardens has informed my artwork and given me a deeper respect for what I am doing with shibori dyeing.  Many believe that shibori was solely a utilitarian way for the peasant class to keep their clothing in good repair–peasants dyed old clothing, or pieces of clothing, then re-assembled them into a “new” apparel item.

While this is certainly true, what is less-known is that the first shibori examples were found in 749 AD, located in a wooden storehouse, known as a Shoso-in, that belonged to Emperor Shomu.  These examples are posited to have been royal gifts from the Chinese Emperor to Emperor Shomu.

If you look carefully at Japanese art screens, woodblock prints, or even Shogun warrior costume, examples of resist-dyeing, or “shibori,” can be seen throughout them all.  Yoshiko Wada, who I consider to be the worldwide expert on all things shibori, asserts that shibori was a technique that crossed class lines, becoming a part of Japanese culture from the royal class all the way down to the peasant class throughout its rich history.  If you are interested in reading (what I consider) the definitive guide to shibori, pick up a copy of Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing by Wada et al.

Bridge at the Japanese Garden of the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens, Pasadena.
Bridge at the Japanese Garden of the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, taken by me, spring 2016.

Going to Japan!

I am thrilled to have been asked to join a master shibori dyeing workshop this fall in Japan! I, along with 8 other artists, will be participating in this exclusive workshop taking place in Fujino.  4 of us will also be traveling to Kyoto for 4 days afterward, so if anyone has travel advice, please COMMENT here!