Shibori is a slow craft, often with many hours of stitching, binding, clamping and pole-dyeing followed by more hours at the indigo vat or mordanting, dyeing and over-dyeing fabric to be transformed into lampshades, throws, cushions, table runners, napkins, scarves and other textiles.
Rob learnt his craft studying Shibori and indigo dyeing in the autumn of 2014 with indigo master Bryan Whitehead, at his stunning mountain home in Fujino, just outside Tokyo. Rob now works at his own London studio combining traditional Japanese Shibori and other resist-dyeing techniques with indigo and natural dyes.
Rob is passionate about Japan and slow craft. Historically the Japanese have made no distinction between art and craft, with the choice of materials and processes used is just as important as the end result. They also embrace the idea of ‘wabi sabi’ reflecting freshness and quietness with beauty and serenity and stating that nothing is ever perfect and that’s a good thing in my mind. Excellence and beauty don’t have to be perfect.
This approach is of great significance to Rob as many of the handcrafted items he makes are subject to randomness: the tightness of the stitches used, the variations in the strength of the dye and the type of water used can all contribute to interesting effects. This often leads to unexpectedly beautiful variations on the planned result. This makes every piece unique, a one-off.
Many traditional Japanese shibori techniques reflect nature and are named after things from nature such as ‘Kumo’, spiderweb, ‘Yanagi’, willow, and ‘Karamatsu’, larch.