Mastering Shibori

For over thirty years, Jane Callender has committed herself to the slow art of shibori – thinking, planning, and stitching geometric structures that burst with pattern, rhythm and movement on cloth. Her process is acutely time-consuming. She describes herself as ‘engrossed’ in her practice – a friend describes her as ‘ploughing her own furrow’. As her life has evolved, so changing circumstances have impacted on time and access to facilities; but Jane Callender’s fascination with her craft has remained steadfast, and her attention to detail, the exactness of her application, and the control of her materials and techniques have resulted in richly decorative works of extraordinary refinement.

As a student of Deryn O’Connor and the late Susan Bosence at the West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham (now the University for the Creative Arts), resist patterning and dyeing was an important element of the curriculum. For Jane, it became a creative obsession. While some find the processes too labour intensive, Jane remains focused – stitching, gathering and binding her manipulated compositions for days at a time. While others hold their breath at the potential risk of immersing their bundles of cloth in the indigo vats, Jane relishes the revelation of her designs, as the first glimpses of white patterning emerges through the dark, ‘inky’ residue of indigo dye.

The natural world is her reference. Jane was born in Penang, Malaya, to a mother born in Kashmir and a father born in Egypt. She has spoken of early childhood memories, following her father as he managed rubber plantations on the Malayan peninsula; and while her work cannot be directly attributed to these roots, there is a sense of the exotic suggested in her striking compositions and organic forms. Her practice extends beyond stitch and gathered surfaces (i.e. mokume shibori). The work incorporates the clamping of larger shapes and blocks (itajime), and the cylindrical wrapping of threads (bo maki shibori), to achieve continuous linear compositions…

You can read this article by Linda Brassington in full in Selvedge issue 63.

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