Adventures into the World of Japanese Shibori Dyeing
Author: Brett Barker
Brett Barker is a painter, textile artist, art/design instructor, and writer whose career spans more than 25 years. Originally from New Mexico, she now resides in Redondo Beach, California. She has taught fine art, artistic design, and textile design to numerous individuals, art guilds, and organizations throughout the U.S. She has a Master's Degree in Art Education from the University of Nebraska. Her artwork sells throughout the U.S. and is available on her website, www.artistbrettbarker.com. She is currently undertaking a year-long investigation of Japanese shibori dyeing that will culminate in a trip to Japan to study under a master shibori artist in September of 2016. Her shibori blog can be found at www.peaceloveshibori.com. Her surface and textile designs can be found at www.brettbarkerdesign.com.
Thank you all for following my year-long “Julie and Julia” project to create shibori using natural dyes created using my kitchen compost. My EOY trip to Japan was an amazing, breathtaking experience- I was able to work with two masters: one, a heritage kimono maker and the other a master shibori artist. What a privilege.
I am currently, and still, working as a freelance textile/surface designer and of course, shibori has found its way into my work, my apparel, and my home.
Shibori has also entered into my art instruction. I am currently working as an adjunct faculty member, teaching textile design and shibori, at the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA. The photo above shows some of the student work from the shibori class.
If you are interested in the pieces created in Japan, or in any of my other designs, please see my website, www.brettbarkerdesign.com
Feel so fortunate to be an adjunct faculty member at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena! This is from—what else?–my shibori class during the fall/winter of 2016. One student (top image) even created curtains for her apartment!
I will be teaching this class AGAIN during the summer (2017) as well as a textile design course. No experience is necessary, just a desire to create beautiful work! Registration begins in April.
Designing for Textiles: Saturdays 9am-noon, June 3 – Aug 19
As an advocate for natural dyes, I am familiar with, and have used, cochineal. Yes, that’s a beautiful red dye made from…bugs. Since their prime food source, prickly pear cactus, is ubiquitous in my home state of New Mexico, most of us natural dye-ers can source this directly–a bonus since commercial cochineal can be expensive. As I said, I have used cochineal in the past, however, I no longer do so as I have evolved into a plant-based dyer, partly out of concern for our planet’s fauna, no matter how, um, icky.
If you share this concern, you will be happy to know that you can now drink your favorite Italian libation, Campari and soda, without guilt. “Guilt?” “What in the world are you talking about??” Yep, Campari’s distinctive red color (and some say flavor) came from the cochineal bug until 2005. It’s now made the “modern” way–with artificial red dye. I can’t decide which one is worse.
The culmination of my shibori examination and practice comes to its one year anniversary next week! I’m celebrating by taking a trip to Japan to study shibori with a master artist. I am joining a group of 10 other amazing artists – who are also a whole lot of fun. Will try to post, mainly pics, when I am there. Bon voyage to me!
Beginning August 15, you can register for a shibori class with me at the prestigious Art Center in Pasadena, California. The classes are on Saturdays, so even if you work a nine-to-fiver, you could still learn all about shibori and even make a few holiday presents for your friends and family! I will be incorporating everything I learn at my master shibori workshop in Japan, so this is a chance for beginners through advanced artists to learn (almost) directly from the source.
I am also teaching a thread painting class at the Art Center, click here for more information on the Art Center’s professional development offerings. Hope to see you in the fall!
Itajime is my favorite kind of shibori. I’m drawn to abstraction and squares for some reason (see one of my large acrylic paintings below), so I end up doing more and more itajime as time goes on. I’m also entering the shogun era in my year-long historical shibori investigation and many of the warriors wore itajime-dyed robes under their armor (see Wada et. al., Shibori for more info).
Here’s my latest throw pillow, designed for a prominent interior designer’s firm, The Design Bakery, here in the L.A. area.
If you are in the LA area this summer, I highly recommend attending the “Reigning Men” exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA to locals). Last week, a fellow artist and I attended a lecture by the AMAZING curator, Sharon Takeda, and afterward were able to get a semi-private tour of the exhibit. Of course, this plain-weave wool suit caught my eye as it was created via shibori, using both itajime and resist dyeing techniques. The red coat in the right background was inspired by traditional warrior/shogun attire.
The exhibition explores the history of men’s fashionable dress from the eighteenth century to the present and is arranged thematically instead of chronologically. Oh and by the way, if you love embroidery, you’ll be in heaven here.