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By Linda Norton

This Cushion is the product of teaching techniques and demonstrates textile art through skilled craft.

Below are notes on the processes used.

'Cushion' will be on show in the Oxford Open Arts Exhibition, 16th August to 17th September 2022


Pressure and steam together will permanently "fix' different manipulations into synthetic fabrics. Permanence depends on the thermoplastic properties of the fabric to set it at 100 degrees centigrade ie. boiling point. Nylon will be permanently set at this temperature; a non- nylon

fabric can be bonded onto a nylon and then treated as a nylon. Other fabrics such as a fine cotton or a silk can be manipulated and fixed by steaming, but will not be permanent when washed. Choose fabrics, which are fine in structure but closely woven for best results. 


Refer to 'shibori' methods in tie and dye books for other ideas.


Pressure can be achieved by tightly squeezing with stitching, string, rubber bands, "bull-dog' clips, wood pressed together with 'G' clamps, or by stuffing the fabric tightly into a confined place such as inside a card tube. 


Steam can be achieved in a steamer, a pressure cooker, a large saucepan or a water heater such as a 'Baby Burco*. The fabric is wrapped in foil and floated on the water, except in a steamer where it is just placed in the steamer container.


Steam for about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of compressed fabric. Allow longer if the compressed fabric is quite thick.


When steaming is complete, remove from steamer, unwrap foil, but do not take the compression off. Allow to dry completely before doing this.


Suggested manipulating methods:

1. Wrap fabric around a pole, wrap string around the fabric; crush the fabric down to one end. Steam with pole in place. (Check length of pole and width of steaming vessel!) More than one piece of fabric can be wrapped around the same rod by wrapping another around the rod after the first one has been pushed down to one end. Tip - wrap a rubber band around the end of the rod to stop the fabric sliding off!


2. Fold fabric into quarters, and then wrap around pole as above. Steam.


3. Scrunch fabric into card tube, pack down with paper (or fabric) to create tight pressure. Steam. (This method might need longer than 10 minutes if there is a bulk of fabric).


4.Gather fabric in pleater, using gathering threads to wrap around to compress the gathers. Steam.


5.Gather fabric on pleater (or by hand or machine stitches) and then wrap around stick. Wrap with string. Steam. Tie small objects such as buttons, marbles, small stones, and shells into a fabric using strong thread or rubber bands to tightly secure. Steam.


7.Use hand stitches to stitch multiple lines across the fabric in a grid pattern. Pull the fabric up along these rows of stitching, gathering in both directions. Secure thread ends tightly and steam.


8. Use hand stitches to stitch lines that form a zigzag pattern across the fabric. Gather the fabric by pulling up on these threads. Secure tightly and steam.

9. Make folds in fabric and stitch along folded edges. Gather fabric up, secure threads and steam.

10. Fold fabric into a small 'package". Place between two solid shapes such as pieces of wood and secure tightly with string or rubber bands. A simple 'G' clamp can also be used.

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Papers and fabrics can be given relief by folding, scrunching, rolling etc.. Part of the challenge of forming manipulated surfaces is to discover different ways of making the relief permanent or at least semi-permanent. Stitch - hand and machine, adhesive, pins, staples and such are conventional methods to hold relief formations. Pressure and heat are also methods of making a manipulated formation hold and when flattened will spring the paper or fabric to reform the relief surface again. Try a few of the following ideas and then see if you can change the

process in some way to suit the surfaces you need to produce from your observations. You could refer to books on Tie and Dye for other ideas on manipulating.




Layout paper is good, as it is thin but strong. You can make your own paper surface by laminating two papers together with a medium, perhaps trapping threads, paper or fabric snippets, dried grass or leaf fragments, sand........ Make sure both layers are well attached and dried before attempting these different manipulated exercises.

1.Crush and crumple several times and then flatten slightly. This will make the paper "springy'. Then pinch and sculpt into raised shapes. See below left.

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2. Wrap paper loosely around a doweling or square or flat rod. Slide to gather paper to the end of the doweling. Slide paper off or carefully unwrap. You can work into the paper before wrapping by making folds in the opposite direction. See above right. Several wrapped paper shapes such as this could be made to produce a series showing gradual changes.

3. Wrap paper loosely around rod as before. Wind string around wrapped paper a few times with slight gaps. Slide to gather paper to one end of rod, allowing the paper to gather up against the string lines. Unwrap string and then paper from the rod.

4. Roll paper and then squeeze to corrugate.


5. Roll paper, wrap roll around rod, press to gather to one end of rod. Carefully unwrap.


6. Fold paper in half and repeat any of the above exercises.


7. Fold paper into quarters and repeat any of above.

Wooden rods or plastic piping can be used for the methods above. Suggested diametre could be about 2 - 5 cms.


(© Siân Martin 2004)

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Basic Shibori Methods using POLYESTER VOILE and SATIN ACETATE and steamed for ten minutes.

1  MARBLE Shibori - small shapes such as marbles, shells, screws, bottle tops individually tied into fabric.

2  ARASHI Shibori -folded fabric wrapped diagonally around *pole' (plastic wastepipe); over-wrapped with string and fabric compressed along pole.

5  MOKUME Shibori - fabric gathered into accordion pleats (with pleater) or hand stitched in zigzag lines.


3, ITAJIME Shibori - Folded fabric compressed between two blocks or in clamp.


4  ORIGAMI Shibori - two identical folded paper surfaces used as preformed shapes; iron to set.

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Many polyester and nylon fabrics can be coloured with disperse/transfer dyes, which need to be boiled or heated to fix. So it is a good idea to add colour at the same time as the steaming process. There are a different ways of doing this. The disperse/transfer dyes are sold in powder form, to which warm water is added to mix to a liquid suspension. You can add a thickener to this liquid to make a paintable substance. See technical sheet for details.  When using the dyes, the steaming process should be longer as the dyes take 30 minutes when being boiled in the conventional way; so allow 30 minutes in the steamer.


As with colourless shibori, it is important to allow the fabric to dry thoroughly after the steaming process before taking the pressure off.

ONE - Try the following ideas on fabric, which has already been tied up and ready for steaming:


• Sprinkle powdered dye finely onto fabric surface. Use a perforated foil cover to the powdered dye pot. You might like to protect the steamer with foil to prevent the dyes permanently colouring the plastic!


• Lightly paint dye onto tops of ripples in fabric. Remember that you can also apply a contrasting colour on the reverse side of a rippled surface. Do not apply too generously.



TWO - Soak the string/thread in water for a couple of hours until saturated; squeeze excess water out; soak threads in liquid dye or paint dye onto damp string/threads. Allow string to dry.


Try the following ideas using the pre-dyed string to tie the fabric up:


•  Use dyed string to wrap around fabric onto a pole as in Arashi shibori.


•  Use dyed string to bind the fabric tightly at the base of a shape like a marble. Continue wrapping tightly with dyed string over whole marbled shibori fabric surface after each one has been tied in individually. The dyed string will give lots of coloured lines over the rounded surface as well as around the neck.

•  Use a short tube (plastic, metal, wood) shape instead of the marble, wrapping the fabric tightly at the base of the tube with the dyed string and then continue the wrapping along the length of the tube and back down to the base to secure. Gather fabric into a sausage shape using the pleater or rows of running stitches. Wrap this shape tightly and densely with dyed string.



THREE - Paint dyes onto paper and allow to dry.


•  Use the painted paper to wrap around a pole before doing Arashi shibori.


•  Use the painted paper in a fold and heat-press method.



FOUR - Fabrics can be previously dye or coloured with any other dye process. If steaming is required to fix the dyes, then you could combine this in the shibori process. Fabrics that have been printed on by the computer printer also work well in the shibori process. It might be interesting to print images of the items you will use to

form the shibori surface. For instance, you could scan a mass of screws, print them

onto fabric and then shibori the fabric using the screws to create the relief surface.

© Sin Martin 2004

ARASHI SHIBORI - Pole wrapped method

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'Cushion' was created by Linda Norton,  the work is available to see at the Jam Facgtory Open Exhibition which will run through till 17th September 2022.
The work is available to buy.  For sales and enquiries please contact


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