There are many forms of art in the world and every style is unique. Tie-dye is a unique form of art that has become a style of clothing due to its popularity.
Tie-dyeing involves manipulating the texture and colouration of fabric by the use of string or elastic bands and dyeing it, also referred to as resist-dyeing. This results in a vividly designed fabric with textured and coloured parts having been retained on the fabric after the binding materials are removed.
Tie-Dyeing results in unique patterns, with no two garments ever turning out to be identical. Some of the patterns that can be created by traditional tie-dyeing techniques include spirals, diamonds and marble-effects. With the use of stencils, shaped blocks and some modern methods, practically any design can be achieved, even peace signs!
Although tie-dyed clothing was a fashion icon of the 60s and 70s, and the recent comeback, it is interesting to note that this technique is actually from ancient times and has been practised by people all over the world, long before the use of industrial machines and the high demand for fashionable clothing.
The earliest records of the use of tie-dye date back to Peru in South America from 500 to 810 AD. The designs featured lines and circles sporting bright colours such as blue, green, red and yellow.
Since the 6th century, tie-dye was very popular in China and Japan too. Natural dyes were made from flowers, leaves, roots and berries. In fact, many styles were developed in the region of Arimatsu in Central Japan.
In West Africa, tie-dye techniques have been used for hundreds of years and the heavily embroidered, tie-dyed garments from the Hausa region and Nigeria are said to have inspired hippie fashion.
Other places which used tie-dye historically consist of the Philippines, India, Thailand and Laos. Tie-dyed fabrics were one of the many goods that were carried along the Silk Road, therefore they could also be found in regions such as the Middle East and ancient Persia.
Tie-dyeing is still done today in rural China and Japan, as well as in Pakistan and India where it is used to pattern materials for saris, scarves, turbans and other festive clothing.
There isn’t much solid evidence as to why tie-dyed clothing was worn by people historically (other than the ones used for religious and cultural purposes in India known as bhandnu, the origins of the bandana) but it has come to represent something rather powerful over the past few decades.
The technique of tie-dyeing was known of in the United States by 1909 when it was introduced by a professor of Columbia University. During the 1920s, the tie-dyeing process was an easy means for people to create fabrics and textiles for homeware and clothing, during a time when people didn't have much money, known as the Great Depression.
The late 1960s and 70s saw the rise of the hippie movement which combated many social norms of the time including capitalism and war, but more importantly, it stood against prejudice and stood for individuality.
Therefore it was only natural that the psychedelic tie-dye design became the symbol of the hippies; no two pieces are the same and the random swirl of bright colours represent the freedom to make choices without restriction.
Binding – This technique involves pulling the material into tufts and binding it with string, the dye is then applied to the material.
Itajime shibori – Shibori is a form of tie-dye which started in Japan. Itajime shibori is a technique which involves placing folded layers of material between two clamped pieces of wood, or other dye-resistant material, preventing the dye from touching the part that is covered.
Honeycomb shibori – This technique involves folding the material lengthways, wrapping a string around it and tying a knot at the end. The string is then pulled to tighten the material and placed in the dye for 24 hours. This produces a honeycomb-style design.
Kumo shibori – Also known as spider tie-dye, Kumo shibori involves tying sections of fabric to produce a spiderweb-like design.
Kanoko shibori – This technique involves tying up hand-pinched sections of the material before dyeing, this gives the desired effect of Kanoko shibori.
Arashi shibori – Literally meaning “storm” in Japanese, Arashi shibori is known for its rain-like diagonal designs achieved by wrapping the material around a pole and tieing it in place before dyeing it.
Tritik – An Indonesian word for a tie-dyeing method which involves patterns stitched into layers of cloth, which is then tightly gathered to prevent the penetration of the dye, resulting in a mirror image pattern of undyed dots.