Shibori to soothe the soul

“Go wide, explore and learn new things. Something will surely have a kick for you”
― Mustafa Saifuddin

“Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in.”
― Germany Kent

Shibori, a form of Japanese cloth dyeing, dates from the 8th century.  A variety of techniques produce some stunning designs on fabric.

I recently attended a short Shibori inspired workshop and walked away with two, once snow-white, beautifully patterned pillowcases in varying shades of blue.  Traditional Shibori dye is indigo but due to the cost of indigo and the smell (the workshop was in a shopping centre believe it or not), we used instead a commercial blue dye.  Having visited an indigo dye facility in China many years ago I can vouch for the smell being quite pungent and permeating.

Traditionally, particular Shibori techniques were used with different types of fabric and the pattern one wanted to achieve.  The fabric can be bound, stitched, folded, twisted or compressed before the dyeing process.

One of the techniques in the workshop was similar to tye-dyeing, where sections of cloth are gathered and bound using either rubber bands, twine or string.  The pattern differs dependent on where and how tightly the binding is tied.  The tighter the binding the whiter the fabric underneath.  This is most similar to Kanoko Shibori.

Pleating and folding the fabric before binding produces not the nice circular patterns of Kanoko Shibori but patterns more in line with Kumo Shibori. I concertina folded my pillowcases, one lengthwise, the other along the short edge. I used a combination of pegs and string to bind.

The preparation of the fabric was quite quick.  First it needed to be dampened.  Then bound in the desired manner before being submerged in dye.  After a twenty-minute wait, an unbinding and quick rinse the patterns were revealed. I’m quite pleased with the effect.  My final products are by no means works of art but the process was fun.  I got to spend an hour and a half with a group of men and women from diverse backgrounds, we chatted and laughed and sipped coffees, iced chocolates and tea and nibbled on fruit and cheese.

This simple act of creating something, time spent with strangers and stepping out of routine buoyed my spirit and gave my mind a break. The act of making patterns on fabric is a great analogy for the act of reimagining and recreating the patterns of my life. A process I have just recently begun.

A year of inspiration: Inspired by the need to give my brain a break and the necessity to recreate the pattern of my life.

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Waves, Gardenias and Einstein

Do you ever have those times when you feel like everything is stacking up and you just can’t deal with it all, manage it all, find time for it all? Even the good stuff loses its shine and seems too difficult because there are so many competing issues to deal with, projects to begin, people to see, plans to fulfil? I’m in that spot right now.  It is like a massive wave has engulfed me and I’m rolling around inside, tangled, tumbling, tossing about without a level surface upon which to set my feet. I’m off balance.

I’m in a state of overwhelm, a state of ‘woe is me’. I’m in that place where it’s easier to throw my hands in the air and do nothing, to bury my head in the sand and hope it will all go away. Procrastination is my ‘go to’ behaviour in times like these.

Strange I should be visited by this devil, this monkey on my back now. Things have been going so very well of late. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful holiday, I’ve made some personal shifts that have been very satisfying. I had great intentions for the several projects I had in place. Why now?   Is there really a part of us that likes to maintain the status quo, that likes to keep us in a place of mediocrity, of longing, of never quite being where we want to be? If so, breaking that barrier, breaking the cycle of highs and lows is a challenge.

I know I won’t be in the whirlpool of my dispair for long. But I know if nothing changes I’ll be back at the beginning of the same pattern, the same cycle of longing and hoping that things will be different. I’ll come out of the whirlpool, I’ll pull my socks up and I’ll line up my projects again. Things will swim along pleasantly and happily for sometime, I will feel like I’m making progress  and, BAM, the wave will roll in and suck me under and into the turmoil, yet again!

What needs to change? What can I do differently to break the cycle, to cut the cord, to move on?

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That was several days ago. I didn’t have the answers but I faced my fears and took action. Action that I saw me emerge from the depths of the tumultuous wave, with my head above water noticing the brightness of the sun rather than the murkiness of the sea bed.

Firstly, I looked for something to be immediately grateful for and something to bring beauty into my seemingly helpless, hopeless world. I wandered into the garden and gave thanks for the newly budding flowers, the lush herbs and the gorgeous smell of gardenias, lavender, rosemary and mint.  I selected three beautifuly formed, pure white gardenias and placed them in a small crystal vase near my workspace.

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Then, beyond all impulses to run away, to hide, to procrastinate, I set about addressing the one critical task that needed to be fulfilled that day. I slowly worked my way through it, allowing time for small breaks to stretch and drink tea. I pushed aside my overwhelm to focus for the day on this one significant task and I am proud to say I achieved it. I ticked it off the list.

These two small acts, acts that differed from my past behaviour, achieved something akin to a miracle for me. Instead of being tossed about for weeks on end, sinking deeper into self pity and despair I now, just a couple of days later, have more energy, feel more motivated and have a brighter outlook than I expected was possible.

It wasn’t rocket science but maybe the key to changining the cycle is to do something different. I can see the truth in that old adage of Einstein’s:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”

I raise my cup of tea this morning and propose a toast to life, to the power in taking action and to breaking habitual cycles by doing things differently, one small step at a time.

Here’s to you too. Wishing you a wonderfully pleasant and fulfilling day.

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