Monday, July 23, 2012

By Upstate

Yesterday I went to a fabric dyeing class in Brooklyn, taught by Katrin Reifeiss. It is about a specific Japanese technique called the Shibori. It involves binding techniques, stitching, folding and pole-wrapping. Here is a quick introduction of Shibori based on what I learned. For a thorough introduction, you can also view videos by Narablog on youtube.

Katrin Reifeiss, who also teaches at Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn if you are interested for the full course. But ours was just 3 hours and it flew by like an hour! Here is our table. There was a bucket of squeeze bottles of dyes we could have used for direct dye method but it would have taken at least 12 hours for the fabric to cure in dyes to complete so we opted for the tub dye method, using buckets of dye water and submerging our fabric in it for a few minutes to 45 minutes to achieve the dye.

There are 4 types of methods as I introduced at the beginning of the post. Below is the Pole-Wrapping Shibori technique called the Arashi "Storm" Shibori. It involves some folding of the fabric (or not), then wrapping it around a pole (you can get the PVC pipes from Home Depot) and then stringing the thread over in horizontal lines tightly, then pushing up the fabric to bunch it up before dyeing. Katrin was demonstrating on a scarf she has made before the class. The red scarf is then dyed in navy so you can see the black lines which is the bunched up fabric exposed to the dye, and the lighter red lines which is covered by the thread (i.e., the resist) which is not dyed. 

The other method is called the Binding techniques. Below are some examples:

Ring Shibori - a string is tied to a little bit of fabric bunched up. The white line seen here is created by the resist of the string.

Shell or Spiderweb Kumo Shibori - It is basically a larger Ring Shibori, and the string is wrapped around the bunched up fabric in horizontal lines to create the white line you see over the orange here.

My attempt at the Spiderweb Shibori was ok. The strings were too thin and the color is a bit too light so I cannot really see the horizontal lines. But the ombre effect of yellow to green is very nice in reality. 

My classmate of the day, Christina, is working on her skirt here to try and create an ombre effect. She did a combination of Spiderweb and Arashi on her scarf below and it came out really beautiful.

Another example of the binding techniques is the pleated stripes. Here Katrin made an example for us using this technique, which starts off with pleating your fabric and securing it with rubber band or a string, then you wind the string down the folded fabric to create the horizontal lines you see here. I tried but mine was horrible. Note to myself, must fold my pleats a lot tidier next time and tied the string tight around the fabric!

Then there is the Stitching Shibori Method and this is called the Ori-Nui. You start with drawing a pattern on the fabric, then fold it up a little into a ridge, and stitch running stitches in regular intervals right under the fold line, pull tight to bunch up, then dye. After you dye it, the pattern will emerge as white dots. It is absolutely beautiful.

The last method is called the Folding techniques. Below is my work (yay!) from yesterday which is a not very regular Tortoiseshell Kikko Pattern. The folding techniques involve pleating the cloth, then folding it in triangles or squares, and clamping it down sometimes on its own, or sometimes with a resist material. To achieve the tortoiseshell, I used a pair of chopsticks clamped on both sides of my folded triangular shaped fabric and submerged it into the dye to get all the fabric colored, except for the part where the chopsticks were clamped in tightly. The yellow is actually part of the black dye which somehow got separated from the black and the effect is random but lovely.

Here is my friend Atsuko, and our teacher Katrin. Atusko's dress was dyed using the folding technique, and then using a plastic resist in the shape of a circle but somehow it came out square...?

Fabric dye is fun and I love the surprise you get everytime you unwrap a piece.  Of course, the masters can always control the dye. But for me, it is like magic!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things I learned in the past few months

By Microzoa
Well in January I have set up a to-do list for 2012. 7 months later I have only achieved 2 of them, but probably the most important 2 items to me. And I learned a ton so far. Most important lesson of all, is never under-estimate what each opportunity brings to you.

1) "When a door opens for you, walk through it." - Joan Rivers

OK, I didn't get to see her at the Barnes and Nobles in Manhattan for her book signing. But I read about this from Ellese Launer's blog post. But it is so true. Last year I went to a workshop hosted by a friend, Holly Luttrell of Edward Owl. She is also a jewelry designer in NY and has experience in the retail fashion world. She taught a few of us designers how to approach a buyer at an interview and I was told that Henri Bendel hosts open see for emerging designers twice a year. All I needed to do was to line up and bring my A game. And I did. I figured, "I have nothing to lose but my dignity, which is worthless if I cannot sell." I took the chance, and I got in to their 2F for my 3-day trunk show.
One day you will look back at all the choices you made and doors you went through, and see that some doors opened for a reason and that was how you get here. Then you should be grateful and continue on with confidence.

2) Be grateful for what you learned. Be generous with your knowledge.

So pt 1 leads to pt 2, I am grateful for the things I learned from my fellow designers and peers. Do not feel that you don't deserve help or sympathy. A little advice goes a long way and everyone deserves it. Because we can always pass on the knowledge and help to someone in need. And that is how the world gets better. But never take things for granted.

3) Do not evaluate the success of a single event with the immediate return.

Every opportunity leads to the next one. That is a lesson I learned from going to the Arts Business Institute workshop during BMAC, a wholesale show designed for artists to sell to boutiques and art galleries. Like wholesale business, the world runs on relationships. No one will trust a newbie on the block with no credibility. You have to keep doing things a few times at your own expense, and get people to hear about you more, before the real volume of wholesale orders or sales will come in. Like this trunk show at Bendel, I didn't make as much as I would in other trunk shows, but I learned a lot. And I met a great designer friend, Brandy Pham, who is not only talented but generous and kind, taught me a lot about breaking into the fashion jewelry world. That is invaluable.

4) Sometimes it is ok to just do it.

I had always been a control freak (maybe still). I planned a lot before I act. And I think impulses were dangerous. But a person can only see what are in the present. We plan for our future based on what we can see right now. So in a way, planning gives us a false sense of security but in fact, it is just another gambling on our lives. Yes I agree that some level of planning is needed to ensure we eliminate the 100% chance of failure. But when you are faced with a dilemma and things can go either way based on what you see in front of you, then just follow your heart. The only way to not regret an action is to be able to answer to yourself, that you have tried your best to make things work, to make yourself happy. If it does not turn out the way it should be, maybe it was never meant to be. And it is ok. Because now you can move on.

5) Failure is ok. It is not permanent either.

After I got in Henri Bendel, I applied for Zappo's emerging designer contest. I didn't get picked. I also applied for a scholarship, and I didn't get picked either. I was a bit disappointed (but it is easier to overcome because I got rewarded anyways). But then I got a nice email from both contacts, saying that they wish I would continue and that they look foward to seeing my new collections. I am sure they say that anyways to everyone. But you know what? It is true. I can still submit my new work next time. And I may still be picked. Today is just not the right day for me. That's all. And that is how I will keep working, until I think I have done enough. Which kind of brings me my last point, ironically...

6) Never say enough.

That includes "Enough I can't do it anymore." "I have hear enough and see enough, I think I get it." "I have said enough." "I know enough about (this and that) to know this is (right or wrong)." "I have done enough for now." or even "I have enough stock." "I have enough SKUs." "It is bold enough."
Because, it is never really enough. Well, maybe "I have said enough" could really be "enough." Sometimes.

Well, I think I will stop here for now and maybe do more of this later. I need some chocolate now...

By HandMadeByTammy on


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