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Step by Step Shibori Dye Technique

May 11, 2017

Well my design besties, are you ready to hear all about my Shibori Dye experience? I am *so* ready to share with you! I had the incredible opportunity to visit Casa Joshua Tree for a shibori workshop with Graham Keegan where he taught us the ins and outs of the process. What an exhilarating feeling to create something so beautiful […]

Well my design besties, are you ready to hear all about my Shibori Dye experience? I am *so* ready to share with you!

I had the incredible opportunity to visit Casa Joshua Tree for a shibori workshop with Graham Keegan where he taught us the ins and outs of the process. What an exhilarating feeling to create something so beautiful with my own bare hands! And of course it involves my most favorite color in the world to design with, indigo blue.

When we first arrived at the workshop, Lindsay Hollinger, THE hostess with the mostess, greeted us with a warm smile and lovely treats and drinks.  I met some uber talented women who were also fascinated with the shibori process and ready to get their hands BLUE!

Shibori Indigo leaves crushed

Shibori 101

Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that involves manipulating the fabric via folding, bunching and binding, then dyeing it in indigo.

You see the indigo leaves above? When it is crushed, the indigo blue dye comes out. Isn’t that fascinating?!

At the workshop, we used rubber bands, clothes pins, wood strips, C-clamps and origami folding which resulted in different areas of the cloth to be exposed to the dye and the binded areas remained white. There are infinite ways to create shibori patterns and it truly was a sight to see every time someone unbound their fabric!  We waxed poetic at each other’s masterpieces throughout the day. It was pretty fun to bond with complete strangers and feel like friends by 4:30pm.

My version of the Shibori dye process

First, Graham boiled a huge steel vat of indigo dye out of indigo, iron and lime.

Indigo, Iron, Lime powder to make Indigo dye


indigo, lime, iron reaction in boiling vat that is on top as bubbles

Next, we took wet all-natural fiber cloths and started folding the fabric in origami-like triangles. Graham had mentioned there were several ways of folding but for diamond patterns which some of us wanted to achieve, he taught us a particular folding technique.

All natural fiber material made wet ready for dye


origami like Shibori folding technique


Once we folded our fabric it was time to choose how to bind it. I wanted white lines defining large diamonds so Graham suggested long thin wood strips. I bound it super tight with string. The key is *super* tight!! Had to use some of those bootcamp muscles!!

wood clamps used to bind fabric and submerge to indigo dye


long wooden strips to bind fabric and make large diamond pattern


Clothes pins as another way to create square patterns


Large Indigo vat where fabric is dipped several times

Once we bound it, as you can see above, we dipped the fabric into the indigo vat. You can only saturate it so much so there is no point in having it in there for a long time. 30 seconds is good. But what makes it darker is the re-dipping (like how technical that sounds, lol).  So the more you dip, the darker your cloth gets. Once you dip it for about 30 seconds, you swish (yet another lovely technical term) the fabric vigorously in clean water which quickly turns a beautiful blue.

Now the important part — indigo needs to oxidize to turn blue. If you see green parts of the fabric, let it dry and oxidize to blue before dipping again. You repeat this over and over until it is the shade you are going for. See how cute mine is drying in the sun?

Tightly bound fabric oxidizing in sun turning green to blue


after fabric dye, rinse it thoroughly with clear water


Finally, cut the tight string, unclamp the fabric and hold your breath as you unfold the blue drippy fabric. Our eyes would widen as we revealed our unique one of a kind designs to the group!!! It was the best sensation! So satisfactory and proud to make something utterly elemental and beautiful. My heart was filled to the brim with creative juices and positive energy. Is this why people love the desert so much?

Large diamond shape Shibori pattern


My large “X” Diamond piece came out more amazing than I could imagine! I can’t wait to show you how I will design with it in my home. Oh fraaaands! This is going to be SO good!!

Once untied, we rinsed our fabric one more time, dipped it in citric acid for a short bath, rinsed again and let the sun do its magic, drying our glorious indigo patterned pieces.

Citric acid wash to PH balance fabric and dye

It truly was one of the best days that I have had in a long time. To refresh myself creatively was priceless. I urge you to find your creative vibe, feed your passion and go out and make art! It is worth the effort to make it happen, I PROMISE YOU.

Beautiful indigo fabrics hanging on clothesline drying

In case you want to find out more about Graham’s future workshops, stop here to take a look! Graham was super patient, extremely knowledgable and explained everything in a relaxed manner. I would definitely take another workshop from him any day.

I also found a fun article by Design*Sponge if you want to try a shibori indigo kit at home. I bought one from Graham because I know the girls are totally roarin’ to try it! Good thing I made three pieces to give them at the end of the day! Best Mom ever! (JK!)

As I mentioned before, all the desert design inspo gave me a clear plan for a corner of my home! And I’m going to let you in on a little secret — I decided that my guest bedroom will have a desert abode feel to it. I already started pinning some ideas on Pinterest. Don’t forget to stop by and start following me there to get all the design eye candy rolled into one through my boards!

indigo tote bags hanging on accordion hangers

That’s it for now. I hope this experience has sparked something deep inside of you to get creative and personal through the magic of art.

Happy day!



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  1. Julie says:

    Love the diamond pattern! It’s amazing & I can’t wait to see how you use it in your home!

  2. Julie says:

    And, did you make those incredible bags?
    I need one!

  3. […] workshop held at Casa Joshua Tree taught by the extraordinary Graham Keegan. You can see this post for more details on my […]

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