There's Shibori on your saree

Published: Dec 20, 2012, 11:37 IST | Ruchika Kher |

With silk as her canvas and dyes, her paint, fabric artist Nikhi Aum embarked on a journey to express her creativity through Art Cloth � art on fabric, and has created a saree collection using the traditional Japanese art of dyeing, Shibori

A self-taught artist, Seattle-based Nikhi Aum, wished to do something different to give expression to her creativity and hence decided to divert her energy and imagination towards the creation of Art Cloth that is used to create wearable art. Art Cloth is cloth transformed by adding or subtracting colour, line, shape, texture value or fiber to create a compelling surface. Wearable art is attire that is not just aesthetically beautiful but also intended to be a unique piece of artistic expression.

Wear your art
“I moved to the US about ten years ago and have always been interested in art. While I’ve never had any formal training, I’ve always enjoyed painting and sketching. I was looking for different avenues to unleash my creativity. So, I decided to try out something totally different. Initially, I was doing this for close family and friends. Whether birthdays, or anniversaries, my presents to them was always Art Cloth – it could be used as scarves or stoles while others as wall hangings,” says Aum.

The artist comes down to Mumbai twice every year with her collections and this time around she is presenting a line of sarees that have been created using Shibori, an ancient Japanese dying technique. “I fell in love with Shibori after my meeting with Ana Lisa Hedstrom — the Shibori guru. Once I applied this technique onto sarees, it was sheer magic. It’s challenging to work on a six-yard fabric, but that’s what I love about it. Instead of handling the fabric as a boring flat surface, Shibori gives the fabric a three-dimensional form by shaping and manipulating the cloth by folding, wringing, crumpling, plaiting or plucking the fabric. This is then secured in a number of ways like knotting or binding. Once the fabric has been printed, it reverts to a beautifully embellished form,” explains the 42-year-old.

Prints created by Nikhi Aum using Shibori

Considering the amount of work that goes into making these sarees (from concept to finish, one piece takes around 45 days to complete) and the quality of silk, dyes and other raw materials, the sarees have been priced between Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000. 

Aum informs that Shibori patterns that are gradually becoming popular on commercially printed fabrics, but that’s not the only method she uses to express her creative side. “I also hand paint using dyes or acrylics depending on the project. When dye touches the silk, it's not possible to control its flow. In order to make crisp imagery I use the French Serti technique. Serti means fence, in which liquid rubber acts as the fence to hold or prevent flow of the dyes across the silk.”

The artist’s next collection in the city would be available in May 2013. and will include garments created using Rozome — a Japanese type of batik with soy wax.

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