Shibori Fiber Art Journey

Makume (wood grain) is a wonderful Shibori technique that creates a multiple of images; abstract designs, motifs, animals -whatever you like.  This is a small piece that I created in my residency studying with a Shibori artisan.  It is created by sewing,  jumping spaces and then the thread is gathered and dipped in indigo.

Gathering Thread for Makume

Gathering Thread for Makume

Makume Shibori

Makume Shibori

Shibori Process

Foldedtriangles  Shibori is all about the process.  The Shibori artisans divide up the labor of producing beautiful cloth. Each studio plays a part as well as each person.  The cloth is first tied into a variety of designs which is usually done by women.  It is a long tedious process but the women have been doing it for so many years that their fingers fly when knotting.  If it is an arashi piece (pole wrapping), it is usually done by men and often with women to help them push the cloth down the long poles.  If the work is to be clamped, the folding is done by a woman and clamped into place by a man.

If it a wearable piece, it might stop in the process to be stenciled (katazome) by a very skilled artisan who designs and cuts the stencils or by a Yuzen artist who may use stencils and color to adorn a Kimono.

After this process, the piece goes to the dyer’s studio where it is washed, dyed, and rinsed (rinsing was usually done in the rivers, but no longer) in a long troughs of water.  It is then dried.

This is of course a brief description.  There are many other steps depending on the use of the article.  Each artisan is known for their own designs and processes, and they are closely guarded secrets.  The majority of older artisans build their own equipment often made of wood. The tools are simple but many have changed to more manufactured tools.

I was able to watch each of these processes and it is very humbling.  The work is hard and requires skills to master.

Follow link to my website: to see samples of the Shibori pieces I made in Japan.

Shibori Fiber Art

I have been working in my studio fast and furious preparing an indigo vat for my Japanese traditional Shibori designs.  The first vat I made included non-reduced indigo, hydorsulpahte and lime – pretty potent.  All of my fabrics came out a blue-black color with little distinction between the resist.  I changed to a pre-reduced indigo with soda ash and thiox, and I had more control over the indigo concentration in my fabric.  I have been working primarily with linen and the color is gorgeous.  I plan to move forward with silks and hemp fiber.  I have currently been dyeing samples with not only indigo but MX Procion dyes as well.

I had a stand made by a carpenter in order to do binding.  I believe it is the hardest process of all.  When I was in Arimatsu, Japan (the home of Shibori) I watched two women in their 90’s do binding, and they work at a blinding speed. I asked if they could slow down so I could see their hand motions and the knotting of the fabric.  It will take a long time to become even moderately efficient at one type of tying on.  It was humbling.

I am working on a solo exhibit that will be held August 21st through September 25th at the Tokyo Electron headquarters in Austin, Texas. Very exciting.

I have been in my studio for over a year now and find myself very lucky to have found such a great space; diffused northern light, lots of wall space and peace and quiet when I choose it to be. Otherwise, I put on my Ipod and sing to Delta blues.

Arashi Shibori

Arashi Shibori

Shibori Fiber Art

I just returned from Japan after 6 weeks where I studied with Bryan Whitehead, a master Shibori artist.  It was an incredible experience, and he is a wonderful instructor.  As a result of my studies, I will have a solo exhibit in August of 2014 at Tokyo Electron in their US headquarters in Austin, Texas. The exhibit will display traditional and westernized interpretations of Shibori.

We began stitching and binding lengths of cloth to create traditional Japanese designs as well as more complex and unusual ones.  Next step was to understand the process of the indigo vat.  Bryan grows his own Indigofera plants and a combination of other substances to create a glorious blue that can’t be duplicated with chemical dyes or synthetics.

We then moved onto pole wrapping (Arashi) which creates watery stripes.  Arashi means “storm” in Japanese and its application fits the name well.  Bryan’s technique is critical to creating the most beautiful and fluid cloth.  Clamp dyeing was our final process and produced a variety of unusual shapes.

Of course, I was able to travel around central Japan visiting the museums, shrines and artisans of lacquer, paper, gold leafing and yuzen dyeing. Many of these processes will be difficult to carry on as new apprentices are difficult to come by.



Primitive Fiber Art Series

This is a part of my Primitive fiber art series – Primeval Woman and Primeval Man.  I am exploring the meaning of symbols from first recorded to current and even what might be in the future.
Both pieces are dyed on silk noil, discharged and use original stencils. I used an Andirka symbol on the Primeval Man that denotes strength.  The Andrika symbol for Primeval Woman means wisdom.
Primeval Man

Primeval Man

Primeval Woman

Primeval Woman

BIG NEW Fiber Studio


I’ve moved a great deal in the last year or so to different studios. Now I am where I want to be.  Big Medium studio has opened a fresh new building that will house over 50-70 artists;  painters, printers, ceramists, metalists, fiber artists and even a one-eyed english bull dog named Piper who paints. A very diverse group.  The new building will go under the name of Canopy at 916 Springdale Rd., Austin, Texas 78702. The amenities include a courtyard, cafe and space for the performing arts.

There will be lots of shows, networking with other artists and collaborations and exposure to Central Texas. Big Medium is a prestigious non-profit organization, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

I have a wonderful new space for Lynne Brotman Fiber Art on the 2nd floor. It’s a 20′ x 20′ space, 10′ ceilings and one whole wall of opaque glass. Lots of natural light – and yes, AC/HC. Hallelujah!  I am in the process of building a dark room, exposure unit,  a big fiber table, lots of shelves and great wall space to hang my work.

I am in heaven. I have dreamed of this space for years. I have come out of the basement into the sunlight! Drop by and visit me in #213.  Photos to come.


Fiber Reactive Dyes

Fiber Art

Pro Chemical Procion MX Dyes

The most widely used dyes for fiber are called Procion MX fiber-reactive dyes.  The dyes are meant to be used on cellulose fibers that include linen, cotton, rayon and silk.  There is a wonderful array of colors, but you can mix any of the primary colors (12 colors on the color wheel) into an infinite color, tone or shade.  The dyes can be thickened, for painting or screen printing using sodium alginate (good ole’ seaweed) making them very versatile.

Easy to use but you must take safety precautions; gloves and face mask.

You can purchase these dyes from Pro-Chemical and Dharma Trading Company online and from their published catalogs.  There are tutorials that will demonstrate how to use the dyes and the chemicals added to activate them.