Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Coral Dyeing Experience - Fun & Easy Fabric Art

A few weeks ago, I went to Okinawa, Japan to visit my daughter's family.
While looking for a place to park to tour Shuri Castle in Naha, we came across a cute shop called Shuri Ryusen.  At this quaint shop, I noticed beautiful scarfs and other fabrics which were decorated with coral stamped images. When we entered this shop, we were handed a brochure in English, which explained that they offered classes to learn this technique. I was smitten, I had to attend this class. We signed up immediately.

Photo not taken by me it can be found HERE.
So, one of the last things my daughter and I did before I left Okinawa was take a coral dyeing class at this shop.  While briefly instructed in English on how this technique is applied to fabrics, soft Japanese music played in the background making this shop a peaceful haven for creativity.  

We were first instructed to choose what we wanted to stamp on.  A few of the items we could decorate were a t-shirt, scarf or a tote bag. We chose to decorate scarves.

Next, we were shown four dyes (red, yellow, blue and purple) and how to apply them using a stamping tray. We were also given a chart which showed us how to mix the dyes to make other colors.

The tables held a lot of different corals with a variety of textures on each one.  The smaller pieces were adhered to cement blocks.  There were really large coral pieces too.  All the coral pieces were cut flat so the fabrics would easily lay down onto the coral.  If the coral was smaller, once the fabric was laid down onto the coral, an elastic was stretched over the fabric to keep it in place while you rubbed the dye over the fabric.

A small sponge was wrapped in a cloth which we blotted into the dye.  Then the sponge was rubbed across the surface of the coral.  The lightest dye color was to be applied first followed by darker colors.

The coral dyeing experience was supposed to take just 30-40 minutes but we took a lot longer because we were having so much fun!  

Once we finished our designs, we were invited to go upstairs into a designers studio to watch other artists dyeing fabric items.  Here's another detailed article about this shop.

Here are a few coral designed items that I thought looked great:

Here's how my scarf turned out:

Does coral dyeing sound like something you'd like to try? If so, you'd first need some coral. If collecting coral, be careful not to remove any live pieces from the ocean especially red and black coral because that would be forbidden according to international laws. Luckily, coral that has washed up on the beach is alright to collect but it would be advisable to check the local laws to confirm before you put pieces into your suitcase. If you already have some coral, you are on your way to a very fun craft project.

This is such an easy and fun fabric art technique! I hope you try it! 
xoxo Grandma

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