Inspiration to Execution: Vol. 3

Shibori is a Japanese resist dyeing technique which dates back to at least the 8th century. It's kind of like tie dye (well, not kind of), involving binding, stitching, folding, twisting, and/or compressing cloth, which is then traditionally treated with indigo dye. The patterns are gorgeous, and I've long been fascinated with them. Thanks to my friend Martha, I had the opportunity to take a shibori dyeing class with Marie Elcin at the Fleisher Art Memorial. I only dyed myself blue once, so I'm counting that as a huge success.

Part of the reason that I wanted to take the class was to understand how the patterns are made. I'd had the idea of trying to duplicate shibori-esque patterns in polymer clay for years, but had no idea how to work toward them. I thought understanding the process would help. Plus, I like learning new stuff.

Do you get the Artful Home catalogue? (If not, you should. So much pretty there.) This shibori jacket by Laura Hunter was on the back cover recently... wow, right?

– Meridian Shibori Jacket by Laura Hunter, available at Artful Home –

Looking at this jacket, I realized that I might be able to get a similar effect with mokume gane and polymer clay. I mixed up a nice shade of green for the base color, did the white-black-white sandwich trick for the top layer, and used a rubber stamp with a traditional Japanese pattern. The result was this piece, which I wired up with yellow quartz, onyx, black spinels, and pearls:

– Shibori Maelstrom™ Necklace, front –

And, just for kicks, I did a mica shift pattern on the back so it's reversible. Because, why not? And I love spirals.

– Shibori Maelstrom™ Necklace, back –

The leftover shavings from the mokume gane side were appliquéd onto solid black clay, and used for these complementary hoop earrings – which, as it happens, look very much like a very traditional itajime shibori pattern.

– Shibori Hoop Earrings –

So that's shibori, mokume gane and polymer clay – plus various gem stones & sterling silver. Who knew??

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Hand-crafted jewelry by Terri Powell.

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