Jenny Fong not only enjoys dying textiles for her apparel and accessories collection, Modern Shibori, but she also loves teaching shibori. A few times a year she gathers a group of students from near and far in her Berkeley backyard to spend a day getting their hands dirty and upcycling old textiles into new, indigo-blue garments. Guest photographer Nicola Parisi went to a class and documented the process.
Shibori is an ancient Japanese dying technique, by which unique patterns are made through binding, twisting, folding, and stitching fabric. That prevents areas from being saturated with dye, and reveals beautiful patterns after fabrics are unfurled. Jenny calls it fancy tie dying.
She started teaching shibori at Handcraft Studio School in 2012, focusing on different techniques. Later, she started shibori retreats at the Russian River, and now she hosts them in her own backyard. Sometimes people come from as far as Seattle.
Shibori is one of the best ways to upcycle clothes and textiles without sewing. Students bring table cloths, napkins, curtains, clothes and bags. Some are turned into wall hangings, table sets for weddings, or new summer wardrobes.
Students bundle, fold, tye and pleat their pieces, prepping for the vat. Jenny says the magic of indigo dyeing as fabric oxidizes from green to blue never gets old.
Jenny uses Michel Garcia’s 1 – 2 – 3 method with organic indigo, fructose and pickling lime. No toxins are involved. She encourages everyone to use wood sticks and rubber bands instead of metal clips that can eventually rust and create waste. The tools are beautiful after they’ve been used over and over again.
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Thanks to Nicola Parisi for the photos in this piece. Nicola is a freelance photographer and graphic designer based in San Francisco. Over the last year, she has particularly enjoyed documenting people in their homes and studios – spaces that show a lot of character and enable people to be most at ease. When she’s not behind the camera or computer, you’ll usually find her making jewelry, refurbishing skateboards, cooking without recipes, riding her bike, or making chocolate from scratch. www.nicolaparisi.com