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Why I Love Shibori: and How to Style it in Your Home

Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 in: Obsessed With DIY Nerd Life

“You need a hobby.” Mr Nerd didn’t just say this, he pretty much shouted it. “You don’t have a hobby and you need one.”

We were in the middle of one of our lovely shouting matches that make me feel bad for our neighbours, yet at the same time I am not going to be the first one to pipe down because piping down signifies weakness, people. I can’t even really remember what we were fighting about. It probably stemmed from something small, like I asked him how the chicken was, and he said it needed more salt, and I called him an ungrateful turd, etc. So basically normal marriage stuff. But for whatever reason, and however we came to it, there he was, yelling that I needed a hobby.

A pop of indigo in this sweet guest bedroom makeover by the talented Emily Henderson. Shibori looks fantastic with cane and other warm brown tones. 

At the risk of revealing the total space cadet that I am (is there such a thing as toddler brain? Because I have it) I don’t even remember the context of that argument. All I remember was replying, confused and incredulous, “What do you mean I need a hobby? Writing is my hobby,” and he was like, “That’s your work,” and I was like, “Yeah it’s work AND my hobby. That’s actually awesome!” and he was like, “No, it’s not the same thing. You need a hobby-hobby.” I retorted that we have a BABY now, who has time for a hobby when you have a baby? Shall I collect stamps? Start embroidery? Netflix and stalking strangers on Instagram and eating dumplings not count as hobbies? Excuse me.

It is like Mr Nerd thinks that HIS kind of hobbies; racing motorbikes and riding his mountain bike and playing video games and watching dumb viral videos on Facebook, are proper hobbies, and the things that I think are perfectly respectable hobbies – like drinking too much coffee and going on Pinterest - don’t count.

Welk I can now smugly say to him that I might have found a hobby. Something that’s fun and tactile; out of the house and away from a screen – shibori.

A big vat of indigo dye as photographed by Bohemian Bunnie.

This Californian home from My Domaine mixes white, neutrals and natural materials with shibori for a light, fresh look. 

Shibori cushions around a gorgeous banquette seating area in this Californian home on My Domaine

Firstly, I’m not being original here - there’s nothing new about shibori. This ancient Japanese fabric dyeing technique has been around since the 8th century, but in recent years it’s experienced a resurgence - and for good reason, my friend, Twinkle and Whistle interior designer Nelly Reffet, tells me.

“Although its popularity has been growing for some time - at least four years - shibori could not be more in line with the current trends as we're moving away from minimalist everything and towards more eclectic, bohemian, colour-and-pattern-heavy interiors,” says Nelly.

“Beyond the look, it's also a traditional technique which appeals to many, as people re-discover the virtue of DIY and focus more on learning creative techniques than ever - a way to be more grounded in an increasingly digital world where we sometimes feel like we tend to lose touch with who we are, our traditions, our "savoir-faire" and the world directly around us.”

Shibori drying on a line from the lovely blog Local Milk

Shibori is very pretty, it’s not really that difficult to DIY and it looks amazing used in our interiors. I’d seen it around a bit (thanks in part to my Pinterest hobby) I’d always liked it, I just had no idea before how fun it was to do yourself. I recently took part in a shibori tutorial hosted as part of Stackwood’s Handmade Holiday workshop late last year.

We were taught the process by the lovely Tanya of Old Grey House, aka she who shiboris best, and we all had so much fun. I felt like a kid in arts and craft class again. There’s something a bit childishly magical about taking your fabric out of the dye and opening it up to see how your design translated in real life, kind of like the grown-up version of making a paper snowflake and unfolding it to see how it looks.

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