Slow stitching with the Shibori Sisters: Barbara Henry • Rachel Kantner • Cecilia Vore
We began our slow stitching journey during the pandemic as a way of coping with the cabin fever we all experienced during those quarantine months. We created our own pod and met weekly to visit and kvetch, laugh and cry, and explore the ancient Japanese art of shibori.
All indigenous peoples around the world have practiced some sort of resist dyeing method to produce patterned fabric.
Some fabrics are folded closely and tightly bound to form the resist before being dyed in a natural dye.
Others are stitch resists – made by sewing tiny running stitches in a pattern and tightening the stitches before dyeing the fabric. The piece is then dipped in an indigo bath numerous times until the desired color is obtained. The fabric is then rinsed to remove excess dye and the stitches are removed.
Shibori is the Japanese version of this textile art form.
Over the past two years we have learned a lot about shibori, indigo dyeing, and each other. We’ve had fun on this journey, and we hope you enjoy the show.
The Arden Fair Exhibit 2022
Imagine a piece of thread, a string, a tuft of wool or cotton, a boiled cocoon – what could you do with these disparate items? Make a dress? Knit a sweater? Felt a rug? Weave a towel? Create a kimono?
Welcome to the world of textile art!
The Shibori Sisters are three Arden women who have worked in various textile art forms for a number of years. The current iteration of the group is focused on the Japanese art of shibori. An ancient form of resist dyeing, practiced by native peoples on six continents, the Japanese have raised it to new heights.
In this exhibit you will find examples of shibori – most made by the Shibori Sisters, but others from Arimatsu, Japan where artisans continue the ancient tradition. You will also see a new art form – we call it shiborigami – created by Cecilia Vore – combining shibori and origami.
The Shibori Sisters are Barbara Henry, Cecilia Vore and Rachel Kantner.
Barbara’s earliest memory of textiles is making an apron without a pattern when she was seven years old. From sewing clothes to costumes, from embroidery to counted cross stitch, from quilting to trapunto, from knitting & crocheting to macramé, from wet and needle felting to making botanical scarves, textiles have been a part of her life.
During the pandemic, she took a one day workshop on shibori and indigo dyeing. Barbara had used shibori techniques in felting, and had done botanical dyeing, but indigo seemed too complicated. Turns out it isn’t too hard. She invited Cecilia and Rachel to have “studio time” on Friday afternoons – a good way to conquer cabin fever! That was the beginning of what now has become almost an obsession.
Cecilia was 8 when her family moved from Illinois to California. She discovered origami during frequent family outings to San Francisco’s Chinatown: souvenir shops filled with nesting dolls, magic boxes with hidden drawers, miniature ivory Buddahs, and packs of origami paper with instruction sheets.
Years passed. Cecilia moved to Arden, where you can follow any creative path you choose – and you can also tag along on the artistic journeys of your friends.
After learning a few basic shibori stitches, and watching Barbara and Rachel create large-scale pieces like kimonos and quilts, Cecilia opted for small-scale projects. The intricacy and beauty (as well as the obsessive craftsmanship required) of shibori seemed a natural fit with origami. She has dubbed her new art form “shiborigami.”
Art and craft were important forms of entertainment and expression in Rachel’s home growing up. She affectionately jokes that her family’s motto is “how hard could it be?” That attitude was applied to projects of all types with inspiration from books, magazines and craft shows. Helping her parents instilled a “can-do” attitude when it comes to upcycling and repairing flea market and roadside finds.
Following their example, she works to create a warm and peaceful environment at home. Since childhood she has loved to garden and thrills in unexpected combinations of color and texture. Rachel’s main art form for the past fifteen years has been beaded jewelry.
A lifelong fascination with textiles made joining what would become the Shibori Sisterhood an easy decision. Passionate about color and particular about materials, she has found a home among these sisters. Nothing interferes with Fridays at the studio.
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