About

Our Mission

Celebrate and preserve Japanese shibori and other heritage textile techniques from around the globe. 

Bridge the ancient with the contemporary in textile technologies. Then reimagine and create for today and for a sustainable future.

Support community. Connect textile practitioners, artists, artisans, scholars, and business people.

Inspire.

Our Story

Our story began in 1975 when WSN founder, Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, taught her first Japanese shibori class in Berkeley, CA. Encouraged by her student-friends as well as mentor, ( fill-in later   ), Yoshiko co-authored, Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing with Jane Barton and Mary Kellogg Rice (1983). This book became the first definitive book on shibori. 

In the early 1990s, younger generation shibori producers and artisans became concerned that shibori, a centuries-old technique and the source of their livelihood, would perhaps not survive into the next millennium. In 1992, they hatched a plan.  They organized the First International Shibori Symposium (ISS) in Nagoya, Japan with a goal to promote shibori textiles inside and outside of Japan. From this first ISS The World Shibori Network (WSN) was born to exchange information and inspiration and to start a grass-roots effort dedicated to preserving Japanese shibori and similar heritage techniques across the globe.

Yoshiko’s continued research on “world shibori” traditions as well as on the history of Japanese shibori artisans led to her second book, Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now (2002) which recognizes the evolution of shibori and its innovations in art, fashion, and textile.

2022 marks the year when the WSN Foundation is officially established as a non-profit organization.

What is Shibori?

“Shibori” derives from the Japanese verb shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” The closest English translation would be “shaped-resist dyeing.” The shaping process reserves areas that are recorded as patterns with characteristically soft edges and crinkled textures when cloth is dyed. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional flat surface, shibori techniques give it a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting. Cloth may be drawn up and bound, stitched and gathered, pleated and bound, folded and clamped between boards, or wrapped around a pole then pushed along it to compress the fabric into folds. Further, a cloth may be dyed repeatedly using a different shaping method each time.

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“Shibori” derives from the Japanese verb shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” The closest English translation would be “shaped-resist dyeing.”

When the cloth is returned to its two-dimensional form after dyeing, the design that emerges is the result of the three-dimensional shape, the type of resist, and the amount of pressure from the thread or clamp that secured the shape during the cloth’s exposure to the dye. The cloth sensitively records both the form and the pressure; the “memory” of the shape remains imprinted in the cloth.

More on Shibori: Tradition, Techniques, Fashion & Art.

Under the umbrella of WSN are Slow Fiber Studios (SFS), SFS Shop, Natural Dye Workshop, International Shibori Symposium (ISS) and now SlowFiberTV™

Slow Fiber Studios™ with its brick-and-mortar studio in Berkeley, CA, is where we offer LIVE lectures, demonstrations and dynamic, hands-on workshops by master artisans, artists, scholars, and specialists from diverse areas of the world. In 2021, SFS began offering virtual and hybrid (LIVE & virtual audiences combined) events.

NaturalDyeWorkshop.com is our film series and discussion forum dedicated to the science and practice of natural dyes and pigments using sustainable methods. Michel Garcia is our featured artisan-scientist in this series.

International Shibori Symposium are organized every few years with plenary sessions, workshops, and travel programs aimed at engaging not only an international audience, but also the local community. These symposia have been organized through volunteer efforts and international collaboration.

SlowFiberTV™ Launched in 2022, this streaming site offers recorded versions of many of our content-driven lectures, workshops, and events. Subscriptions and purchases of programs are offered.

SFS in collaboration with Hipcamp, 2015

Our People

Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, Founder & President
Tomoko Ferguson, Program Director
Eric Anderson, Program Coordinator
Tseki Lhamo, Digital Media Designer

Board of Directors
Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Barbara Shapiro, Hiroko Watanabe, Hiroshi Murase, Matko Tomicic, Nancy Salumbides Manousos