Japanese inspired textiles – katagami and shibori with Rob Jones

Ref: S4D13415

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Learn how to make Shibori and Katazome textiles, which are two of the main techniques used in Japan to decorate fabric traditionally made into kimono and other garments. Explore the range of resist dyeing and stencil cutting methods offered to create unique indigo-dyed fabrics for your own textile projects.

This course features in our themed Japanese influence's week.

Course Description

Shibori is the collective term for all types of resist dyeing using binding, stitching, folding, clamping, pleating and pole wrapping. The common factor is the compression of the fabric, which prevents the dye from accessing some areas which, when dyed and undone, yield a beautiful range of complex patterns.

The Japanese crafts of Katagami (stencil cutting) and Katazome (dyeing using stencils) are ancient ones in Japan, with craftspeople making the most delicate and detailed patterns and representations of nature and Japanese life on fabric. Katagami stencils are made from Japanese washi paper, soaked and bonded together using the aged juice of the Persimmon fruit and then dried and smoked to create an almost entirely waterproof paper, ideal for stencil work

Both have a long history in Japan and produce beautiful fabrics with considerable variation in pattern possible.

On the first day, you will use your own design to cut a simple paper stencil using Kakishibugami stencil paper, provided by the tutor. You will learn how to make and apply the traditional rice paste used as a resist, and start to use the tutor’s modern and vintage Japanese stencils using indigo dye. Your tutor will explain how to set up and maintain an indigo vat for dyeing your work.

On the second day, you can use your own cut stencil and practise pattern matching with the tutor’s stencils to create larger patterns as would have been traditional in Japan. There will also be time to experiment with overlaying one stencil on another to create different effects. Your tutor will also explain about the history of Katagami stencilling in Japan, the four types of stencil cutting techniques and will show you his collection of vintage stencils. You should leave with the skills to cut and dye with your own stencils at home.

On the third day, the tutor will cover the building blocks of Shibori resist dyeing. The session will cover the basic binding techniques of ne maki (bead binding), bai (seashell pattern) and kumo (spiderweb pattern) and the three main types of Shibori stitching: Nui (running stitch), Ori nui (fold stitch) and Maki nui (wrapped stitch), whilst introducing the key knots required for all Shibori work.

In the afternoon, you will extend your Shibori vocabulary with Makiage and Guntai shibori, which both create bounded patterns using stitching and binding.

On the final day, the tutor will cover some other simple techniques, such as: marbling, rope rolling and folding to create further patterns, and you will have the opportunity to continue your practice using your own ideas, with guidance from the tutor. You will continue to use indigo to dye your work.

This course is part of our Japanese influence’s week. Our February themed week of short courses for 2024 focuses on Japanese influences, led by talented artist-tutors.

Akiko Fujikawa – Woodcut printmaking

Rob Jones – Katagami and shibori textiles

Paula Haughney – Netsuke stone carving

Tim Andrews – Tea ware pottery

Yoko Takenami – Ink calligraphy and characters

Nick Bodimeade – Landscape – Eastern influences on European painting

Each course explores a different aspect of the influences of Japanese art and craft and how they may be applied to contemporary practices.

Each tutor will be invited to give a short talk (10 minutes) about an aspect of their work relating to the theme of the week on Tuesday evening at 5.15pm. Participants will also be encouraged to visit other courses to see work produced across the varied approaches offered in the week.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the tutor will supply most of the materials, including: indigo and rice paste ingredients, as well as Kakishibugami paper for each student.

What students need to bring

  • Cotton/Linen/Bamboo or mixed natural plant-based fabrics. (These must be scoured or pre-washed, or bought prepared for dyeing to ensure they do not contain any preserving chemicals as this impedes the uptake of the indigo dye.) The best fabric would be a shirting or quilting cotton. Very heavy or very fine fabrics (such as cotton lawn) are not suitable.
  • Strong bonded nylon sewing thread 60s weight – eg https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/191060006666 (You should get a darker colour so the stitching shows up on the fabric.)
  • Apron (note: indigo will stain if it gets onto your clothes, so ideally wear old clothes/something you don’t mind getting a bit of dye on)
  • Rubber gloves (These must be Marigolds or similar, and must cover the wrist.)
  • Sewing kit (Needles: ideally long, thin darning needle), scissors, pins, needle threader (optional), thimble (optional)), Unpicker
  • Ruler
  • Notepad/camera (if you wish to record your work)
  • Design inspiration for up to three small stencils (typically 10cm square)
  • 25 litre container suitable for carrying liquid if you wish to take home any of the indigo-dye bath preparation.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Household needles
  • Unpicker
  • Scoured cotton

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). There may be possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Rob Jones

Rob Jones is a textile artist, who takes his inspiration from Japanese Textiles traditions including Shibori, Katagami stencilling and Sashiko embroidery and Boro. He began his study in 2011 at West Dean on short courses and then undertook an intensive course with Bryan Whitehead in Japan in the autumn of 2014. Rob has been a full time textiles designer and teacher since September 2015.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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