Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

Some bits I like: shibori and wax


Extreme Ironing takes place at the start of making folded and clamped shibori and if I’m not in the mood, it can be tedious and exhausting. The next bit is great as it’s working with dyes, but the best is the Christmas Stocking moment of opening up each dyed scarf. That comes after the ironing, but before the steaming.

With wax it’s the other way round. You do the evil stuff after the creative work with wax and dyes is complete. There’s a lengthy sequence of de-waxing, steaming, cleaning and washing out residual wax, etc before the scarves are ready.


Labels, lists, tissue paper and scarves for despatch this morning

But however they are made, all scarves need a sewn-in label, a personal label / swing tag and a price tag with a stock number. My personal tags were designed for me by Chameleon Studio, a local Devon company. We chose recycled card and vegetable-based inks for the two types of label. I have one for natural-dyed and another for synthetic-dyed work; they look different but the design is related. On the left, you can see the two types of label. The buff label with plummy-coloured ink is the one I use for natural-dyed work. The full-colour image on an individual label is actually a sticker which I attach one by one. It was a brilliant idea of the designer’s to reduce costs on printing because sheets of sticky labels are much cheaper than full-colour printing on card. Once everything is labelled and listed for despatch to a shop or gallery there is always a list to fill out and a package to make up, followed by a trek down the hill to the local post office. Post-dog usually helps with this part of the process.

The latest batch of work has gone down to the Devon Guild of Craftsmen whose Christmas Show ‘Make 2013’ begins at the end of this week. It’s open daily from 10 am – 5.30 pm.

5 thoughts on “Some bits I like: shibori and wax

  1. I like this too. It’s important to realise that art doesn’t begin and end with the exciting creative stuff. There is also all the nitty-gritty stuff that interfaces it with the buying public, and which you describe well. The trouble you go to is a mark of respect to them.

  2. Sorry I missed responding to this, Richard…. you are right. It leads on from that irritating question about how long it took to make something. Making anything takes all the hours of thinking and working and one’s own lifetime of experience, plus all the administration without which nothing at all would be seen, let alone sold

  3. The “it took a lifetime” is now a cliche (wasn’t it Picasso who is first recorded as saying it?) but none the less true for that. I responded to your contribution to my Blog there – you might have seen it – but I wasa trying to differentiate between the picture shop traders and those gallery ‘owners’ who love Real Art. On “Imagine” – the Yentob programme about Outsider Art last night – there was mention of speculators who buy even this art to invest and have no real interest in what they buy except that they see a market opportunity. But there are not many, and that is why OA is still largely unseen in main galleries.

    • I missed the Yentob on Outsider Art. Was it any good? The one on de Waal made me unbelievably cross. Lots of unnecessary footage of de W traipsing to Venice to find something already known about, with a son who would probably have found it all acutely embarrassing. Why no questions on de Waal’s mastery of technique, as in why does he cut the bases of those pots with five cuts ‘just so’? How does he choose which pot goes where? Even if the answer is ‘it’s intuitive’ I’d have liked to have heard the question asked. But isn’t it interesting that it took his best-selling book to gain him such a prestigious exhibition in New York.. did his work ‘acquire value’ (as in my post on your site about collectors / Grayson Perry lectures) to the extent that the gallery felt it worth a risk as people might have heard of this intelligent British potter who creates installations….

  4. Haven’t seen the entire Yentob prog yet (iPlayer where you are?), some bits I did see were irritating (doesn’t take much) but others good. I didn’t see the de Waal one but found when he went to India with Howard Hodgkin very disappointing. Looked like a jolly good jolly to me though Hodgkin didn’t seem to be having much fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s