Between her backyard and laundry in Melbourne, Victoria Pemberton has spent the past four years up to her elbows in vats of indigo, practising the ancient Japanese art of shibori dyeing. Pemberton uses everything from PVC pipes to beer coasters to create patterns, resulting in a unique collection of hand-sewn tablecloths, napkins and tea towels that will brighten your table setting and mood in equal measure.
What drew you to shibori, Victoria?
I'm always trying to achieve a solid, consistent shade of blue - regardless of whether I'm using itajime (creating blank space) or arashi (pole-wrapping) shibori techniques. That's the kind of work you would get if you went to Japan, where some masters spend their entire lives studying and trying to achieve that perfect colour.
What's working with indigo like?
I only use natural, plant-derived dyes, and you have to do repeat dipping to build up the shade of colour. For a pale indigo you might only dip one to three times, and for a really dark, midnight-blue indigo you're looking at upwards of seven dips in the vat. It requires a lot of patience.
What's the best part of the dyeing process?
After your first dip, the fabric will be a yellow-green colour, and then as it hits the air, the dye oxidises and changes to blue. It's kind of like Polaroid film, when the chemicals in the photo react and an image slowly emerges.
Bind|Fold, from $25. Clockwise from top left: furoshiki, $55; dark indigo tablecloth, $190; pale indigo tablecloth, $190; furoshiki in shibori splash, $55; furoshiki in squares, $55; tea towel in arashi, $30; tea towel in shibori moon, $30.