Bomaki shibori on leather for Sting Ray

20 July 2006

Last year when Grace and I were first working with leather and creating textures with shibori techniques I did a small sample of thin black leather in Bomaki. Bomaki is a technique using a pole but instead of wrapping the goods with string, the goods are sewn into a tube that fits the pole tightly. It is then scrunched to create the pleats.
Here is the sample;
leather bomaki sample.jpg
I had no idea where this samples was (there are hundreds of samples floating around here) but Grace had squirreled it away and now says to me, wouldn’t this look nice here for these pieces in the side of the sting ray jacket. She is pointing to the curved front side and back side pieces just at the waist. You can see the back one here:
SRmuslin.back.jpg
She has enough of the jacket togther that I can see that the pleated leather gives a wonderful curve to that part of the jacket. Ok, lets go for it! It will take lots of leather since this kind of pleating dramatically reduces the length of the pieces.
Now the trick of getting bomaki to work is getting the tube sewn just the circumference of the pole. Too loose and you get glops of fabric not pleats. Too tight and you can not get it on the pole or you tear holes in the cloth where it is sewn. With silk you machine baste the silk into a tube and if it is too loose you just sew it again, tighter. This kind of adjustment with the leather is not an option.
With leather sewing makes little holes everyplace the needle pierces. Might be ok in some cases but not here. What I was playing in the pictured sample was how to make the leather into a tube without sewing. Overlapping reduces the amount of leather that you can use in the end. The overlapped portions would behave differently because they are so thick and stiff. So a more conventional seaming technique is needed. I tried several things including double stick tape and rubbber cement. The part of the sample to the left, which is the part we like, was done with rubber cement. Coat both pieces, let dry to tacky, then press together. It is easy to separate afterwards, and the sticky stuff can be removed from the back with an eraser if need be.
Grace had all the other pieces of the jacket cut so we had to hunt for enough leather to fit on the poles (min. 8.5″ wide) and long enough to make the pieces. Oh yes, now we’ve added an insert in each cuff too.
We found enough of the thin leather, left the thicker skins, that would pleat differently, for the under collar and facings. Here they all are, moistened and stretched out with the 2 pattern pieces on top.
leather pieces.jpg
I’m stretching them into shape. When they are dry I careful mark them with a template, I need a “straight seam” to be able to get them on the pole. With rubber cement on the tips of all of my digits, I do get the leather into a tight fitting tube!
leather tube.jpg
Of the 10 pieces of leather on the table I manage to get 7 on this little pole. The pole is ID 2″ and just 18″long. Each pieces has a different size seam and it is postioned differently on the pole. I did not square off the ends of the leather pieces, just just never know when that 1/4″ will make it possible to get a pattern piece out. These unsewn ends just dangle.
leather bomaki on pole.jpg.
The leather is soaked in water for about an hour and now we have to wait for it to dry… maybe by Mon. It is very humid here. Then I can do the last 3 pieces. The big activity this past week is waiting for poles to dry…what excitment!

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