What is Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori?
Kanoko-Shibori is a traditional Japanese tie-dyeing technique and the name, “Kanoko” comes from the fact that the pattern created through So-Shibori (tie-dyeing large pieces of fabric) looks like the dotted pattern on a young deer’s back. In particular, when the Kanoko-Shibori technique is applied to silk fabric produced in Kyoto, it is referred to as “Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori,” which was officially designated by the Japanese government as a traditional craft in 1976. In the Kyoto tie-dying tradition, expert artisans are assigned to each stage of the production process and play their roles. Each product therefore embodies the work done by the hands of many individuals, and the quality of each artisan’s work contributes to the overall outcome. Subtle bleeding of dye and improvised artisan handiwork lend themselves to unique products, not a single one of which is identical with another.
After creating a design on the fabric, the cloth is pinched and tied together with a thread. This piece is called the “enclosure.” When dyeing, the “enclosure” must remain un-dyed and a pure white color so that the pattern can clearly show.
There are many different techniques of Kanoko-Shibori, but they have since decreased as craftsman no longer pass them down. Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori is not a specific technique, rather it is a generic term for the dyeing templates manufactured in Kyoto. The technique of placing the template between folded cloth is also treated as a type of design. It involves sandwiching the template between fabric and boards and dyeing them without staining outside of the design. This plating method technique is very difficult and involves much trial and error. Depending on the type of cloth and how it is pinched and strung together, there are around 50 types of variations in the plating method.
Kimono Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori have over 50 processes from design to completion. Only highly-trained and specialized craftsman can be involved in working the processes as skill effects the outcome of each work. Even slight and subtle color bleeding cannot be undone, which makes Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori especially difficult to achieve.