Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Catharine Ellis


The power loom has long been a time and labor saving device resulting in a separation of the weaver/designer from the process of making cloth. This is evident in the Taiten shibori fabrics of the early 20th century, the only form of Japanese loom woven shibori. Taiten fabric was woven of plain weave with heavier threads placed at intervals in the warp. When the cloth is removed from the loom the heavy threads are pulled to form a resist for dyeing. While developing my own process of woven shibori I was not able to understand why the Japanese never developed a similarly expanded vocabulary of woven pattern resist, although they had refined shibori to include extensive patterns of stitched, wrapped and tied resists. Once I realized that the taiten fabrics were made on industrial looms and then taken to dyers to be hand processed, it became clear that the weaver was not the dyer. In the case of my own woven shibori, the weaver is the dyer, allowing me to make connections between weaving, resist and dyeing.

As we enter the 21st century when Jacquard and industrial equipment is becoming accessible to the textile artist, the relationship between industrial production and hand process deserves examination. My opportunity to work in a small textile mill is resulting in a vastly expanded vocabulary of woven resist patterns for shibori. Access to jacquard looms, combined with the ability to connect designing, weaving and dyeing, is transforming the way I work and the resulting fabrics.

20-minute presentation including images of historical taiten process and the artist’s fabrics and process.