Social Media Break = New Found Shibori Fun!

Shibori - diving into the blue

In February I decided to detox from social media for the month. I said goodbye to Instagram (the monster that eats all my mobile data!) and Facebook (time-taker supreme) and allowed myself only Pinterest and Tinder. (Note: yes! These are still social platforms, so the detox wasn't a blanket approach, simply the things I knew were my technological Achilles heel).

At first I found myself picking up my phone...

  • waiting for coffee (3 minutes!)
  • at the doctor's
  • on public transport
  • at work
  • with friends

And then I stopped. I made eye contact, listened to more pod-casts and found new music, created playlists and even felt like I had more time.

Lots more time.

As adults creating for the fun of it doesn't get priority - we're in the mindset of 'success' and everything we do should have a tangible outcome (even getting likes on a photo) or impact on 'moving forward'. I like seeing results from my actions, I'm the first to admit that. Probably why I like cleaning so much! So stopping and giving myself (all this new) time to create felt a little foreign.

I'd been drooling over the cushions and bed linen in my Pinterest feed, so decided fabric dyeing would be a great thing to try. I found myself able to research easily without constant distraction of notifications, save more ideas of things I wanted to make and feel out new creative endeavours.

I found a cute little site with organic indigo shibori dye kits and ordered away. A week later I was armed and ready to see what I could create.

Instead of laying in bed on Saturday morning, scrolling through filtered fun, I had set a whole day aside to get making!

The Japanese word shibori means ‘to squeeze or press’ and it is a beautiful way to make unique patterns on fabric. If you’re googling this, be mindful not to click the ‘shibari’ links. Different kind of knots, mostly done on humans, naked!

A quick Youtube search (and hours of background Pinteresting/online stalking!) helped put me on the right track for my first batch of shibori. I watched a couple of good introductions (one here) and armed with my shibori starter pack from Handmakers Factory, I donned my comfiest shorts and old t-shirt, and headed to the deck.

I love to op shop, so all of my fabric and white items came from vinnies or garage sales. Get experimental with different fabrics, and remember – good ole cotton is best.

Step one: outdoor area, four large buckets, water and shibori kit.

In hindsight I probably should have layed a tarp or old rug, but managed to rinse all blue drips off the pavers pretty easily.

Bucket's of deep blue fun!

Step two: some chill tunes and patience. Get tying! And knotting.

Let your imagination take you away. Get ready to raid your recycling bin! I used wine bottles in replacement of PVC tube and they worked a treat. This took about an hour to tie socks, t-shirts, sheets, cushion covers, random bits of fabric and some undies. It was strangely meditative. 

Step three: Stop, drop and timer. Gloves! Don't forget gloves!

Place your knotted items quickly in cold clean water, let them soak it up and put aside to drip off a little excess water. Then place them ever-so-carefully (no splashing!) into the dye. Pop your timer on. 15 minutes worked for me. Adjust based on your colour preference. Dark = longer.

Step four: More patience, back bends and lots of drying space.

Remove your pieces gently, being mindful not to disturb the dye bath. Place them in the empty bucket, and remove the ties. Quickly place them into the setting soak, then into the clean water again. Don’t be afraid to squeeze out the water, then lay them out to dry.

Watching the vivid mermaid green of the indigo dye oxidise with the air is mesmerising. Seeing it turn deep indigo, at first, was relieving, then bloody gratifying!


Step five:  Rinse your new artistic pieces either by hand, or into the washing machine (I did both).

The colour will alter slightly, but means no rubbing off onto your skin. I also place them in the dryer and then ironed them, to set the dye. Might have been overkill, but I wore a shirt that day and no smurfing occurred! Same with the bedsheets – no colour transfer at all.

The whole process took me about 5-6 hours. I’d recommend raising your buckets onto benches if you have back problems, I got a little sore by the end of the day.

The dye will last about five days in the bucket is sealed, so invite friends over to use it, gift some to neighbours (what I did) or head back out to the op shops and get a-making again.

Such a rewarding way to spend a Saturday! I realised I hadn't spoken to anyone for a few hours, which is a rare thing for me, and when I was done seeing the fruits of my day gave me a deep (blue) sense of satisfaction.

That night I slept in a sea of indigo.