Karamatsu – the larch

To help me in my explorations of indigo and shibori techniques, I have been studying mainly from two books ‘Shibori- designs and techniques by Mandy Southan and ‘Shibori for textile artistsby Janice Gunner. Both these books are very helpful and accessible for beginners in this field.

I have been trying various techniques making scarves and fabric pieces for lampshades and particularly found Karamatsu shibori a really interesting and satisfying method.

Janice explains two approaches for this technique which produces and image said to represent the larch tree – the dark lines within the circles are thought to show the radiating branches of the native Japanese larch tree.

The first is to mark and stitch semi –circles on the folded fabric and then gather up each set of circles tightly before immersing in the indigo vat.

folded karamatsu

The second is to mark and stitch rows of concentric circles on a single layer of fabric and then gather up each set tightly before dyeing.

Orchard Fruit Textiles  (19)
beginning to gather the circles

Both methods involved some slow hand stitching which was welcome in these busy days with two sons home on school holidays.

Orchard Fruit Textiles  (22)
all gathered and ready to dye

And then on to the dyeing. With both samples I managed to remember to soak the fabric before gather up the running stitches and while the gathering is time consuming there was a satisfying sense of pattern and rhythm. However gathering strong thread when wet is not kind to fingers and so I must find a way to protect them while not wearing gloves as I need the nimble bare fingertips to tie the thread taut. It’s only two fingers that take the brunt so I might try my leather thimbles.

 Any way here are the results of both methods – there is a slight variation in the pattern but not much – made into lampshades and available over in Etsy.

I was really pleased with the method and results and am planning to try embellishing the results next time with some stitching. So I’ll have to show you that another time!



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