World Shibori Network

Celebrating the visual languages of PEOPLE, COMMUNITY, CULTURE, and ENVIRONMENT through the global practice of resist-dye traditions and innovations, keeping in mind authenticity, reciprocity, and networking.

Eric’s Expanding Toolset: Thimble Pad Making

my own thimble pad

Two small scraps of fabric, thick cardboard, a coin, and sewing materials are all it takes to create your own personalized thimble pad. I first saw this type of thimble pad used during master shibori artisan Mr. Murase’s workshop in August 2019, at which I assisted. I was standoffish at first, displeased that the pad required me to change the way I hold a needle when I hand stitch. I remember being stubborn and thinking I have been getting along so far stitching without a thimble pad, so what’s the need? It wasn’t until the sashiko workshop months later in October 2019 with Lucy Arai that I found myself in dire need of protection for my hand.

Yoshiko Wada’s thimble pad

Thankfully, necessity prompted me to think back to the shibori workshop and Mr. Murase’s toolset. It took only 15 minutes to make the thimble pad, most of that being time finding the materials. I found it odd at first that the thimble pad would dictate how I had to hold the needle, but it wasn’t long before I noticed the steadiness, regularity and precision it brought to my stitches! The thimble pad has definitely helped regulate my hand stitching and, as a result, even improve the speed of my stitch. This surprised me at the time, although it really shouldn’t have! I was reminded that there is a reason that a shibori master of Mr. Murase’s expertise uses the tools he does. I eventually went back to the Arimatsu shibori DVD and spotted other artisans using the thimble pad. 

screenshots of shibori artisan stitching mokume shibori from Arimatsu DVD

This experience caused me to be less stubborn and to study not just the technique but the tools used. The thimble pad ended up being a lesson in humility. I began using other tools I remembered seeing Mr. Murase use, such as the small thread clipper and the needle cushion/pincushion preloaded with threaded needles, noting a positive result with each new tool.

Mr. Murase’s toolset from his workshop

The whole experience was a very interesting introspection and learning experience showing me how the tools we use can change our process and that tool mastery is just as important as technique mastery. This lesson of tool selection and mastery also helped me improve in other fields I have interest in, such as cooking and stenciling, when I took time to optimize my toolset. It’s easy to get the idea, at least it was for me, that we should always prioritize repeatedly practicing our technique for any creative process in order to improve, when sometimes the largest jump in improvement  comes from optimizing your toolset and seeing how that can advance and refine your overall process.

Thanks for reading! – Eric from Slow Fiber Studios


If you are interested in making your own thimble pad, watch this video.

See work from Arimatsu shibori artisans in our shibori tenugui collection.

For more instructional videos, visit the Workshop Tips & Clips page!

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This entry was posted on 17 July 2020 by .
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