Friday, 10th March, 2017

Clothing defined rank and status ... throughout Ethiopia’s history. Guilds of specialist weavers, embroiderers and tailors worked for religious and political elites. One of the most significant garments in Ethiopia’s cultural history is the white cotton shamma, a toga-like shawl worn by both men and women that was made in several types. A lightweight shawl worn by women over a kemis (dress) sometimes had a red border indicating rank and status. The shamma, made in two heavier weights, was worn by men, used as a blanket and even as shrouds for the dead. The manner of wearing the shamma could communicate mood, attitude and intention.

Read the rest of the article over on ClothRoads.

 

 

Friday, 10th March, 2017

At Carib Fiber Arts, we like to know how to do things and love to pass that knowledge around. So, having done the research, the step-by-step details of making a viable electric bobbin winder are now yours. Before you drill, please ensure that your measurements are such as would yield the desirable result. Caveat: We are not engineers. These measurements are guides/suggestions that are intended to help you make a bobbin winder for less than $125.

Materials List

1. Sewing machine motor with pedal and motor block for Singer. 1.0 amps 7000 rpm 110 VOLT 100W, variable speed. $40.50, including shipping. The motor has a 1/4" shaft.

2. 3/8-24rh shaft arbor. Part #3ZN04-#3ZN06. $7.27.

The shaft arbor fits on shaft diameter (size): #3ZN04—1/4"; #3ZN05—5/16"; #3ZN06—3/8".

The arbor has 3/8" screw of 24 threads on the other end which fits into the cone spike.

3. Pike nuts (2). Lowbrow Customs. $12.20 (5-pk). Or Moto Part Hub, $10.70 (3-pk)

Available at Ebay, search terms: 3/8"-24 thread pike nuts. 

4. 1-5/8" x 3/8"-24 Stainless steel bolt and 1/2"-3/4" x 3/8" compression spring. $2.80; $2.63 (6-pk).

Note: Purchase these items only if building a Schacht-type electric bobbin winder. 

5. 5/16" x 18" steel rod. $3.47; 3/8" x 4" compression spring.

This item is available at Lowe's and can be cut with their metal gate cutter. 

6. 1/2 in. x 48 in. x 1/16 in thick aluminum round tube. $8.61. 

7. 1" square aluminum bar. 1" x 12". $9.93 plus shipping. 

It may be possible to have this custom cut into 1" squares at the purchase site. This is an alternative to Process part (1d)

8. Clamping screw knob. Star Knob, 1, 1 3/4 In, 1/4-20. 0.95c.

9. Lumber (5 pcs.) Bell Forest Figured & Exotic Woods.

The wood can be purchased anywhere.

10. Flathead wood screws (8). 1/4" x 3/4". 3/8" washers (2).

11. Rubber bumpers (feet) (6). Sized to fit the screws.

Process

1. The Base Platform: 1" x 6" x 20" (1)

a. Mark out spaces for the Motor Block and the Rod End Block

b. Carve a 5/8" x 5/8" x 14" groove from the base of the Motor Block. This groove should be directly under the steel rod when inserted at 2c, 3c, 4c.

2. The Motor Block: 3-1/4" x 3-1/4" x 1" (1)

a. Adjust the width of the block to fit that of the sewing machine motor, if desired.

b. On the 1" side, mark the center of the following 3/8" up from the base.

c. Dead center of the 3/8" line drawn on the 1" side, use a 5/16" bit to drill a hole 1/2" deep.

3. The End Pike Block: 1-1/2" x 2" x 3" (1)

a. On the 1-1/2" side, mark the center of the following 3/4" up from the base.

b. Below the previously-drawn 3/4" line, mark another line 3/8" up from the base, all around the block. (Note: The new 3/8" line is now the new baseline for the 3/4" mark.)

c. Then, dead center of the 3/4" line drawn, use a 1/2" bit to drill a hole straight through the 2" depth to allow the 5/16" steel rod to pass through.

d. Cut the 1/2" aluminum tube 2" long and tap it carefully to fit snugly into the 1/2" hole.

e. Finally, at  the 1-1/2" side, at the bottom, at dead center mark out a center tongue 1/2" wide x 3/8" high. Then, very carefully, on either side of that tongue, cut out on both the left and the right, two strips, 1/2" x 3/8" x 2". This will leave a strip 1/2"x 3/8" x 2" as a tongue in the middle of the underside.

4. The Clamping Screw Knob Block: 1-/12" x 1" x 1" (1). (Alternatively, purchase a 1" square aluminum block.)

a. On the 1-1/2" side, mark the center of the following 3/8" up from the base.

b. Dead center of the 3/8" line drawn, use a 1/2" bit to drill a hole straight through the 1" depth to allow the 5/16" steel rod to pass through.

c. Cut the 1/2" aluminum tube 1" long and tap it carefully to fit snugly into the 1/2" hole

5. The Rod End Block: 1-1/2" x 1-1/4" x 1" (1)

a. On the 1-1/2" side, mark the center of the following 3/8" up from the base.

b. Dead center of the 3/8" line drawn, use a 5/16" bit to drill a hole to 3/8" depth to insert the end of the 5/16" steel rod.

Assembly

1. Drill and insert screws and rubber under the Base Platform.

2. Drill holes and screw the Motor Block onto the Base Platform.

3. Bolt the Motor and its power connections on to the Motor Block.

4. Pin the Shaft Arbor on to Motor Shaft.

5. Screw a Pike Nut on to the threaded end of the Shaft Arbor.

6. Insert the Steel Rod into the Motor Block.

7. Slide the End Pike Block onto the Steel Rod.

8. Slide the 3/8" x 4" Steel Spring onto the Steel Rod.

9. Slide the Clamping Screw Knob Block onto the Steel Rod.

10. Fit the Steel Rod tightly into the Rod End Block.

12. Clamp the End Rod Block on to the Base Platform and screw both together so the Steel Rod is a snug fit.

This is based on the AVL pirn winder available for sale at the AVL website. We do not have an AVL. The measurements presented here were worked out in the process of preparing to build ours. Let us know what, if any, modifications you make. Enjoy.

 

Tuesday, 07th March, 2017

One of the pains of a weaver's life is the cost of equipment. A production weaver (which we confess to being) needs an electric bobbin winder for the simple reason that winding 10 bobbins before beginning weaving ensures minimum breaks in the process when a bobbin/pirn runs out of weft. Since we use the Schacht end delivery shuttle which takes pirns rather than bobbins, to get the best out of that, the pirns have to be wound precisely and tightly. The most effective way of achieving an efficiently wound pirn is via an electric bobbin winder. So, we purchased a no-name one modeled after the Schacht, barely used, because $369? Really, now!

Unfortunately, the builder of the no-name bobbin winder  made a grave error with his otherwise well crafted tool. He substituted the steel and hard polycarbonate cone spikes with an air nozzle tip of flexible rubber. The end result? The winder works fine for bobbins which have a larger aperture than a pirn's; however, since the tip of the nozzle is almost larger than the aperture of the pirn, when the rotational speed increases, the pirn kicks out. If the rubber tip is inserted carefully and doesn't bend all that much, and if the winding speed achieves an RPM that is acceptable to it (who knows what that is?!?!), the pirns will wind, else it will kick the bobbin out. That infuriated us; so we resolved to make low cost modifications to fix the existing bobbin winder, and to build another from scratch.

One way to fix the problem was to remove the rubber tips entirely, purchase a shaft arbor for about $9, a drill chuck for $7-$13, and a tapered metal shaft for $23. The shaft arbor would be screwed into the drill chuck and then attached to the shaft protruding from the sewing machine motor. The drill chuck would be opened to accept the tapered metal shaft and then tightened around it. An alternative method was to acquire metal cone spikes and replace the rubber on both ends. A third alternative was to acquire a .26c 1-1/2" metal bolt, grind the tip into a smooth point, drill a small hole, insert a clip, cover it with shrink plastic, and go. That's the option chosen, and it works. In the image above, the pin is somewhat visible just above the shrink plastic on the ground down bolt. So far, LeClerc bobbins as well as pirns can be wound on it. 

To solve the problem to our satisfaction, though, we decided to build our own bobbin winder. While we have no problem with the bobbin winders being sold for $369, $389, $409 and such, because of our interest in re-establishing weaving in the Caribbean, we have to devise cost effectient alternatives for the Caribbean market. 

 

Wednesday, 01st February, 2017

Adire Eleko:

Adire Eleko Stencil (John Wise/Gasali Adeyemo)This first section on adire eleko proposes to revisit the research on the general topic of adire and then locate the eleko design—temporally and geographically—within the context of Yoruba culture, before briefly addressing the making of adire eleko and touching on the problems associated with resist dyeing.

W. Rea writes that, “[a]dire is a product of Yoruba engagement with the modern world. Designs were inspired by the changing worlds of Ibadan and Abeokuta. The technique leant itself to inventiveness and flexibility, as well as illustrating local proverbs and using established motifs, designs often refer to topical events, and make reference to everyday life.” (Rea, Yoruba Textiles, Cloth and Tradition in West Africa, 6) In terms of function, adire designs may be said to be on a par with Trinidad calypsos, the purpose of which is often commentary on sociopolitical and other events in the country. 

Meanwhile, Bukola Adeyemi Oyeniyi corrects the record on the meaning of the term “adire” when he clarifies related terms. Writes Oyeniyi,  “The first is the name Adire itself. The nearest English interpretation given Adire, over the years, has been tie- and dye. Effectively, the name, Adire, even to the Yoruba, merely describes the process and procedures through which Adire is made. Adire, as a word, is a shortened form of saying: ‘Adi Aso, a si ‘Re si nu Aro’, which means, “The cloth is knotted and soaked in indigo dye”. Oyeniyi then deals with what he regards as the artificial distinctions between types of adire, asserting Oyeniyi asserting that there is one technique, adire, which “are mainly different designs based on patterns and depth of dye.” (117) such as oniko eleko, and alabere.  

Margaret Areo and Razaq Kalilu, in Origin of and Visual Semiotics in Yoruba Textile of Adire, examine “[t]he symbols of Adire which are created, accepted, and standardized aspect of the people’s culture, [and] are drawn from history, legends, myths, proverbs, foklores and deep observation of the environment of this traditionally deeply religious people.” They go on to note that the mode of transmission of these “are [from] mothers to daughters within dyeing families from generations to generations”  and lament that “with external influences and internal developments within the Yoruba region, the origin and meaning of these symbols have been lost to many and particularly the few remaining Adire artists.” (Abstract, 22) Areo and Kalilu dismiss the theory of accidental discovery of resist dyeing, put forth by Polkoff and Buhler, by invoking “Yoruba philosophy and traditional history. Stories encoded in Ejiogbe the first of the 256 chapters of the Ifa divination oral literature [which] credited the origin of patterned dyeing in various hues to Orunmila, the Yoruba deity of wisdom and divination and the Ifa exponent, who was divinely inspired to produce patterned dyed cloths using the material technology of certain birds, Agbe, Aluko, Odidere, Akuko, Lekeleke and Agbufon.” (23)

Rea distinguishes between two schools of adire eleko—the Abeokuta, signified by the use of zinc stencils, which zinc came from “the internal lining of European packing cases (tea chests) that were arriving in Nigeria … at the turn of the century” (Rea 6); and, the Ibadan, characterized by its “free hand painting” (Rea 6) style; Areo and Kalilu concur,  adding that “the freehand- painted type which is believed to have probably originated at Idi-Aro area of the town between 1910 and 1915.” (Adire in South-Western Nigeria: Geography of the Centres, 364) Rea further connects with Areo and Kalilu who argue that the enduring nature of adire cloth is attributable to “the creative spirit of the artist and the dynamism of the art tradition itself”. (Origin of and Visual Semiotics in Yoruba Textile of Adire, 25) They then trace the line of development and continuity from “the hand stitched indigo dyed prototype which was done on Kijipa” evolving “into the freehand starch painted type, Adire Eleko, which originated at about 1910 (Beier 1957)”—which Rea terms the Ibadan school of adire. (23) Furthermore, Areo et al make the argument that “[t]he Adire freehand starch patterned type has also further evolved into the contemporary blocked, stamped and free-form designs, which now come not only in indigo but also in a kaleidoscope of synthetic dye of various tints and hues. So versatile and dynamic is this art tradition that four major types of Adire with fourteen distinct variants based on the techniques used in preparing the cloth prior to dyeing were identified by the turn of the twenty - first century (Wolff 2001: 51). Areo (2004) has further identified six broad categories.” It is likely that one may construe these categories as Oyeniyi has, merely as “different designs based on patterns and depth of dye.” (117) Solomon Gausa, in Tie-Dye (Adire) among the Jukun People, further agree with Rea and Areo et al when he writes that, “Abeokuta, Ibadan and Osogbo are the main centres of Adire, although they could also be found among the Hausas and along the west coast (Senegal and Sierra Leone).” Like Areo, Gausa dates the design only back to 1910, primarily and specifically “among the Lagos and Abeokuta dyers”. (3) Gausa then adds more process information which will be the included in the next post.

Maiwada et al, as well as O. O. Braide et al, (16) indicate that the eleko design is made with cassava resist paste; (160) however, Areo et al state that “corn starch paste is used for Adire Eleko”. (26) Hannatu Alheri, like Maiwada, points to the usage of cassava paste, indicating that the paste is applied to the cloth with a feather or broom straw, and that the designers are Yoruba women called aladire. I. B. Kashim et al accept both corn starch and cassava paste as acceptable stating that “The qualifying term eleko (means the one with corn pap or cassava paste) indicates the type of resist used.” (78) Abraham E. Asmah et al contribute further knowledge when they explain that adire eleko involves “a cooked soluble flour paste … applied to the fabric instead of hot wax.” (2) In Cassava Resist Dyeing: Traditional Dyeing Techniques in a New Environment, Jill Becker notes the addition of copper sulfate to the boiling cassava flour starch so that the eleko resist solution can last longer. In contrast with Becker, Gausa speaks of using “white alum” to prevent the cassava paste from dissolving in the dye vat. (3) Amubode A. Adetoun et al, in Consumers’ Acceptability and Creative Use of Local Fabrics as Graduation Gown for Primary School Pupils, informs that in addition to alum, candle wax may be added to the mix for the purpose of increasing the strength of the cassava paste resist. (82)

Finally, in the essay “Knowledge, attitude, and practice on the use of personal protective equipment by traditional resist fabrics workers in Abeokuta, Nigeria”, which is focused on occupational safety and potential health hazards stemming from resist dyeing, W. L. Akintayo addresses some of the unforeseen issues that may arise from the various techniques. Writes Akintayo, “[r]esist fabric techniques such as tie- dye, batik, adire-eleko e.t.c is a manual procedure that directly exposes workers to various synthetic dyes and chemical used. Adeakin (2009) states that skin diseases, such as allergic contact dermatitis, irritant dermatitis and inflammation of mucous membranes, result from contact with synthetic dyes and chemicals, particularly acids, alkalies, oxidizing agents, detergents and solvent.” (27) The essay emphasizes the need for the use of proper protective equipment, such as goggles, gloves, face masks, and aprons, (29) to protect the health of resist dyers.  Akintayo also emphasizes the need for proper disposal of resist dye related supplies and chemicals, such as copper sulfate, mordants, and synthetic dyes in order to protect human health and the environment. (29) 

 

Sources:

Adetoun, Amubode Adedotun, Kehinde Kabirat Adebowale, and Bridget Itunu Awosika. Consumers’ Acceptability and Creative Use of Local Fabrics as Graduation Gown for Primary School Pupils. Review of Arts and Humanities. December 2015, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 81-89. American Research Institute for Policy Development. DOI: 10.15640/rah.v4n2a9. http://dx.doi.org/10.15640/rah.v4n2a9.

Akintayo, W. L. Knowledge, Attitude and Practice on the Use of Personal Protective Equipment by Traditional Resist Fabrics Workers in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Kuwait Chapter of Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, Vol. 2, No.7, March. 2013. http://www.arabianjbmr.com/pdfs/KD_VOL_2_7/3.pdf.

Alheri, Hannatu. Development of Resist Decorated Fabrics for Fashionable Clothing in some Selected Parts of Kaduna and Kano States, Nigeria. M. A. Thesis, Faculty of Environmental Design, Department of Industrial Design, Ahamadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. October, 2014. http://kubanni.abu.edu.ng:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/6658/1/DEVELOPM....

Areo, Margaret Olugbemisola and Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu. Adire in South-Western Nigeria: Geography of the Centres. African Research Review, Vol. 7 (2), Serial No. 29, April, 2013: 350-370. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/afrrev.7i2.22. http://afrrevjo.net/journals/m....

——. Origin of and Visual Semiotics in Yoruba Textile of Adire. Arts and Design Studies, Vol. 12, 2013. http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/ADS/article/viewFile/7566/7614.

Asmah, Abraham Ekow, Vincentia Okpattah,  and Samuel Teye Daitey. The Innovative Wet-Dyeing Batik T-Shirt Technique. International Journal of Academic Research and Reflection, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-9. http://www.idpublications.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Full-Paper-THE-....

Becker, Jill. Cassava Resist Dyeing: Traditional Dyeing Techniques in a New Environment. http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2139/15884/Cassava%2.... Kingston, Jamaica: University of Technology.

Braide, O. O. and S. A. Adetoro. Cassava Flour as a Resin Printing Paste for Textile Patterns, Abeokuta, Nigeria. Transnational Journal of Science and Technology. August 2013 edition vol. 3, No. 8, ISSN 1857-8047. http://www.tjournal.org/tjst_august_2013/02.pdf.

Bukola Adeyemi, Oyeniyi. Poverty Alleviation and Empowerment of Small-Scale Industries in Nigeria: The Case of Tie and Dye Makers Association. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Political Studies and Governance, Faculty of Humanities, University of Free State, South Africa. Accepted 11 June, 2013. African Journal of History and Culture. Vol 5(6), pp. 114-125, August, 2013. DOI: 10.5897/AJHC11.006. http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/AJHC/article-full-text-pdf/EA40D....

Gausa, Solomon. Tie-Dye (Adire) among the Jukun People. Mgbakoigba: Journal of African Studies, Volume 4, 2015. African Journals Online. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/mjas/article/download/118511/108040. 

Hann, M. A. Resist Dyeing and Patterning—An Explanation of Alternatives. School of Design, University of Leeds, UK. m.a.hann@leeds.ac.uk. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.904.9122&rep=re....

Kashim, I. B., B. E. Adiji, and E. B. Oladumiye. The Impact of Cottage Textile Industries on Students’ of Textile Designs in Tertiary Institutions in South Western Nigeria. Education Research Journal, Vol 2(93), pp. 75-86, March, 2012. http://resjournals.com/journals/educational-research-journal/EDU%202012/....

Fact Files—Textile Facts Final. Horniman Museum & Gardens. http://staging.horniman.ac.uk/media/_file/textile-facts-final.pdf.

Maiwada, Salihu, S. A. Dutsenwai, and m. Y. Waziri. Cultural Industries and Wealth Creation: The Case of Traditional textile Industry in Nigeria. American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 2, No. 5; May, 2012, pp. 159-165. http://www.aijcrnet.com/journals/Vol_2_No_5_May_2012/17.pdf.

Omoniyi, Tosin. The Famous Adire Merchants of Abeokuta. Daily Trust. Feb 24 2013 5:00AM. http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/sunday/index.php/feature/12137-the-famous-a....

Seattle Art Museum. Yoruba Collection. http://www1.seattleartmuseum.org/eMuseum/code/emuseum.asp?style=single&c....

Rea, W. Yoruba Textiles, Cloth and Tradition in West Africa. 5th September—1st March, 2012. University of Leeds International Textiles Archives. http://l8lj4w45xq24rooa1c6upxke.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2014/06/UL....

Wise, John. Traditional Yoruba Techniques of Adire Eleko and Tie-Dye Workshop with Gasali Adeyemo - Stencil for Batik.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/stayinthemagic/9478178612/in/photostream/.

 

Tuesday, 31st January, 2017

Adire Eleko:

In the last article, Adire Oniko, we wrote this: 

Adire oniko is a surface design technique which employs either raffia or thread to achieve the dye resist. This resist technique is not unique to the Yoruba of Nigeria or the continent of Africa.... Since adire oniko is one of the simplest forms of textile surface design, that would likely account for its practice in a variety of countries under different names. Adire oniko is the same as the Japanese shibori, the Indian bandhani, and the Indonesian plangi. (In My Mother's Closet) The difference in design aspect may be attributed to the difference in materials used by each culture. 

Today, the focus is on the doing. The choice of materials is up to the individual. At Carib Fiber Arts, we use thread; cotton, silk, poly cotton, whatever fabric we can put our hands on, especially for experimenting; indigo or other natural dyes, or whatever dyes work best with the fabric; and, tailor's chalk.

Thread: 16-oz military bonded nylon thread B69-T70 found at the link. Why? Best price. Why pay $6-$7 for 4 oz when 16-oz could be had for $10.50? It's called maximizing resources. 

Fabric: Kona cotton or other sturdy cotton. Since the key to success is sampling, sampling, and sampling, it might be advisable to start with an old white bedsheet and take it from there. We have frequented the house linen section of Goodwill, DAV, CHKD, and other thrift stores in quest of white Indian or Chinese cotton sheets. These are usually 100% cotton. We have even found linen, pure and blended, all at about $2 per, depending on where bought. We do not turn up our nose at polycotton, but are aware that dyes take differently and look different on different fabrics. Still, the thrift stores are a great source for cheap cotton, linen, and other fabrics. If you're in the Caribbean, your choices are likely limited to new fabric. 

Dyes: Indigo or whatever you wish to use.

Tailor's chalk: Why tailor's chalk? We have tried the fabric pens and found them wanting. Besides, next year, we are moving back to the Caribbean and really don't wish to have to either hunt or pay for fabric pens. We wanted a product that would be reusable, long lasting, give us more bang for the buck, and would be washable. Yes, tailor's chalk leaves smears on the hands, but, so what? It met all the other criteria. We found the best price at Colonial Tailor's Chalk and Supplies, discussed our use and purpose with them, and the company was kind enough to provide a chalk color mix that met our requirements. Carmel Textile Mill Chalk is an alternative source complete with chalk holders. 

Once, we tried pencilling in a design. We have never repeated that error because we still see the pencil marks on the fabric.

Having got all the materials together, let's look at the steps. 

  1. Iron the fabric and place it on an uncluttered surface. If possible, pin the fabric to the surface to keep it immobile.
  2. Draw in the design (at some point, we will talk about stencils and other such).
  3. Take up the cloth to begin stitching. Note that in stitching, the bonded nylon thread should be doubled, long, and with a big fat secure knot on the end. Cut the pull ends  about 2"-3" long, and make sure and keep them all on the same side of the cloth and going in the same direction. For bound adire oniko, ClothRoads offers several wonderful examples of shibori
  4. Upon completion of the stitching, consider well where to begin pulling the threads because, quite often, starting in the wrong place will result in some threads not being pulled, thus creating an incomplete design. Pull tightly and tie the ends very tightly to hold in the design. We prefer to pull design pairs and tie them together by passing the right side of the thread twice (instead of once) around the left, pulling tightly, then passing the left side twice around the right and pulling tightly. This ensure that the threads will not slip out.
  5. Snip the now extra long thread ends short, but not short enough to clip the knots. The fabric should be a mere fraction of its former size.
  6. Before dyeing, the cloth must be wetted out. So, soak the cloth in a bowl of water and leave it for 15 minutes or so until it is thoroughly wet. Squeeze out the water thoroughly, and dunk in the dye. (We will talk about dyeing in more detailed fashion another time)

 

Wednesday, 25th January, 2017

Head on over to ClothRoads and read up about “The Threads and Stitches of Laos”, a ten-day, small group tour departing on April 1...."

Learning to weave textiles that look like this is much worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 23rd January, 2017

Adire Oniko:

In the last article, Adire Oniko, we wrote this: 

Adire oniko is a surface design technique which employs either raffia or thread to achieve the dye resist. This resist technique is not unique to the Yoruba of Nigeria or the continent of Africa.... Since adire oniko is one of the simplest forms of textile surface design, that would likely account for its practice in a variety of countries under different names. Adire oniko is the same as the Japanese shibori, the Indian bandhani, and the Indonesian plangi. (In My Mother's Closet) The difference in design aspect may be attributed to the difference in materials used by each culture. 

Today, the focus is on the doing. The choice of materials is up to the individual. At Carib Fiber Arts, we use thread; cotton, silk, poly cotton, whatever fabric we can put our hands on, especially for experimenting; indigo or other natural dyes, or whatever dyes work best with the fabric; and, tailor's chalk.

Thread: 16-oz military bonded nylon thread B69-T70 found at the link. Why? Best price. Why pay $6-$7 for 4 oz when 16-oz could be had for $10.50? It's called maximizing resources. 

Fabric: Kona cotton or other sturdy cotton. Since the key to success is sampling, sampling, and sampling, it might be advisable to start with an old white bedsheet and take it from there. We have frequented the house linen section of Goodwill, DAV, CHKD, and other thrift stores in quest of white Indian or Chinese cotton sheets. These are usually 100% cotton. We have even found linen, pure and blended, all at about $2 per, depending on where bought. We do not turn up our nose at polycotton, but are aware that dyes take differently and look different on different fabrics. Still, the thrift stores are a great source for cheap cotton, linen, and other fabrics. If you're in the Caribbean, your choices are likely limited to new fabric. 

Dyes: Indigo or whatever you wish to use.

Tailor's chalk: Why tailor's chalk? We have tried the fabric pens and found them wanting. Besides, next year, we are moving back to the Caribbean and really don't wish to have to either hunt or pay for fabric pens. We wanted a product that would be reusable, long lasting, give us more bang for the buck, and would be washable. Yes, tailor's chalk leaves smears on the hands, but, so what? It met all the other criteria. We found the best price at Colonial Tailor's Chalk and Supplies, discussed our use and purpose with them, and the company was kind enough to provide a chalk color mix that met our requirements. Carmel Textile Mill Chalk is an alternative source complete with chalk holders. 

Once, we tried pencilling in a design. We have never repeated that error because we still see the pencil marks on the fabric.

Having got all the materials together, let's look at the steps. 

  1. Iron the fabric and place it on an uncluttered surface. If possible, pin the fabric to the surface to keep it immobile.
  2. Draw in the design (at some point, we will talk about stencils and other such).
  3. Take up the cloth to begin stitching. Note that in stitching, the bonded nylon thread should be doubled, long, and with a big fat secure knot on the end. Cut the pull ends  about 2"-3" long, and make sure and keep them all on the same side of the cloth and going in the same direction. For bound adire oniko, ClothRoads offers several wonderful examples of shibori
  4. Upon completion of the stitching, consider well where to begin pulling the threads because, quite often, starting in the wrong place will result in some threads not being pulled, thus creating an incomplete design. Pull tightly and tie the ends very tightly to hold in the design. We prefer to pull design pairs and tie them together by passing the right side of the thread twice (instead of once) around the left, pulling tightly, then passing the left side twice around the right and pulling tightly. This ensure that the threads will not slip out.
  5. Snip the now extra long thread ends short, but not short enough to clip the knots. The fabric should be a mere fraction of its former size.
  6. Before dyeing, the cloth must be wetted out. So, soak the cloth in a bowl of water and leave it for 15 minutes or so until it is thoroughly wet. Squeeze out the water thoroughly, and dunk in the dye. (We will talk about dyeing in more detailed fashion another time)

 

Monday, 23rd January, 2017

Adire Oniko:

Adire oniko is a surface design technique which employs either raffia or thread to achieve the dye resist. This resist technique is not unique to the Yoruba of Nigeria or the continent of Africa. Areo et al in the discussion of adire oniko, considers the Yoruba of Nigeria as the starting point for the cultural dissemination of the technique, stating that it “must date back several centuries ago, considering the fact that Adire at its peak was exported to Senegal, Congo, Cameroons, Gold Coast (present day Ghana) and probably other West African countries.” (97) Since adire oniko is one of the simplest forms of textile surface design, that would likely account for its practice in a variety of countries under different names. Adire oniko is the same as the Japanese shibori, the Indian bandhani, and the Indonesian plangi. (In My Mother's Closet) The difference in design aspect may be attributed to the difference in materials used by each culture. 

M. A. Hann, writing in Patterns of Culture about Nigerian and other African technique of adire oniko, comments that though resist dyed fabrics were common Africa, “the adire oniko cloths produced by the Yoruba of Nigeria are probably the most notable.” (33) Hann notes that the designs are created either by binding or stitching with raffia and consisted of “large or small circles”. Hans then examines the differences in adire oniko designs found in West Africa, writing that apart from the Yoruba of Nigeria, such cloths were also common in “Senegal and Gambia [Picton and Mack, 1991, p. 148] … [as well as] Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya”. The difference between the designs in these different places may be attributed to the different techniques utilized to create the effect.

For instance, the adire oniko designs from Morocco-Libya are signified by “simple ring designs, using single-colour resist-dyeing on woollen fabric”. These differed from Gambia and Senegal in that these two countries devised a "marbled effect" by dint of "crumpling the fabric and binding it loosely" before dyeing. Hann does not specify the type of fabric, which may well be cotton. In conjunction with those two countries, Hann finds that in Sierra Leone, the cloth is finely pleated and bound "to create a cross-hatched effect". Senegal stood out though for its practice of using geometric embroidery as a resist method which, after the dyeing, was unpicked to reveal the contrast between the dyed background and the pattern.

The “oldest, simplest, commonest and the most basic of all Adire techniques known among the Yoruba” and the means of accomplishing it “involves tying, binding, or covering specific portions of the fabric with any flexible material of choice with the sole aim of preventing dye penetration, so that the areas so covered invariably results into the Adire patterns.” (Areo 97)  Since raffia is common to and abundant in Nigeria, that is what the Yoruba use to tie the fabric and create the patterned resist. 

Areo classifies the different tying techniques as follows: “knotting, binding, folding, stitching and champing, and involves using iko the raffia thread in one form or the other, or any of the several other flexible binding materials apart from raffia thread”. (97) Her discussion ventures into greater detail about the tying techniques, but it is not our purpose to teach how to do things exactly like the Yoruba. Rather, our intention is to provide information and leave the rest up to the imagination of the designer to create effects that are desirable.

Sources:

Adeyemo, Gasali. Indigo Arts Gallery.

Adire Oniko & Alabere. Inside My Mother's Closet.

Areo, Margaret Oluwagbemisola, Rasaq Olatunde, Rom Kalilu. Paradigmatic Appraisal of Techniques and Technology of Adire in the Last Five Decades. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 3, No 15, 2013.

Hans, M. A. Patterns of Culture: Techniques of Decoration and Coloration. U. of Leeds, 2005.

Thursday, 19th January, 2017

Introduction: Last year October, 2016, Carib Fiber Arts began an instructional series on Nigerian adire cloth making via an overview video. Today, we follow through on our promise to provide instruction on making adire cloth. The Art of Adire is the first article, and, in it, we propose to discuss the definition and methods of adire. Subsequent articles will, hopefully, examine each method and its process. 

Resist dyeing is unique to no nation, and is likely one of the most ancient methods of surface design. In West Africa, evidence of adire oniko (bound resist) in use in the 11th century was noted on a cap found in the Tellem caves in Mali. The provenance of other forms of adire may not be so clear cut; for example, previous to the “early 1900s” there was no evidence of adire eleko (paste resist) in Africa. 

So, then, one must ask, what is this adire? Adire is the Yoruba resist dyeing surface design method. The word adire is a Yoruba term formed from "two Yoruba words: ‘adi’ meaning to tie and ‘re’ meaning to dye" fabric using techniques such as batik, binding, stitching, clamping, and stenciling. 

Research has determined that there are six broad categories of adire: adire oniko—raffia or thread resist; adire eleso—seed or stone resist; adire eleko—starch or glue resist; adire alabela—wax resist; discharge dyeing—color subtraction via bleach or other colorant removal; and, factory printing.

This series of articles will explore five of the six broad categories (the exception is factory printing adire), and hopefully provide accompanying videos, in order to provide the readership with the means of creating with adire



Sources:

Adedotun, Amubode Adetoun, Adebowale Kehinde Kabirat & Awosika Bridget Itunu. Consumers’ Acceptability and Creative Use of Local Fabrics as Graduation Gown for Primary School PupilsReview of Arts and Humanities December 2015, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 81-89 ISSN: 2334-2927 (Print), 2334-2935 (Online) Published by American Research Institute for Policy Development DOI: 10.15640/rah.v4n2a9 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.15640/rah.v4n2a9.

Areo, Margaret Oluwagbemisola, Rasaq Olatunde, Rom Kalilu. Paradigmatic Appraisal of Techniques and Technology of Adire in the Last Five Decades. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 3, No 15, 2013.

Hans, M. A. Patterns of Culture: Techniques of Decoration and Coloration. U. of Leeds, 2005.

Kashim, I. B.,  Adiji. B. E, and Oladumiye, E. B. The Impact of Cottage Textile Industries on Students’ of Textile Designs in Tertiary Institutions in South Western Nigeria. Education Research Journal. Vol. 2(3), pp. 75-86, March 2012.

The History of Adire Textile. Bellafricana Digest.

 

Monday, 16th January, 2017

Last year, via email, CaFA conducted an interview with Art Quilter Els Mommers of Saba. For our readers' enjoyment, we now publish the interview, with a few editorial changes. 

CaFA: Els, can you give us a brief bio so our readers can get a sense of who you and what informs your work?

Els
: I was born and raised in Holland. I earned a Masters Degree in fine arts and art education at the Witte Lelie in Amsterdam and worked as an art teacher at the High School (SGL) in Lelystad, Holland.

My husband and I moved in 1987 to the beautiful island of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean where I taught (a.o.) fine arts at the Saba Comprehensive School. After 10 years of teaching on Saba, we started a small ecohotel: El Momo Cottages and, in the meantime, I had a shop: El Momo Folkart.

Living in the tropics, surrounded by lots of color, inspired me to start art quilting and, after retiring in 2009, I did the City and Guild course: Creative Quiltmaking.

My first solo-exhibition was on Saba in 2011, Rhapsody in Color, followed by a group exhibition in the same year, The Locals. A year later, I was honored to show my art work to the Dutch Royal Family in an exhibition of local art, and, in the same year, we had another group exhibition on Saba. In 2012, I joined the  International Internet  Art Quilt group: Fifteen by Fifteen. From 2014 to 2016, I’ve participated in exhibitions in Europe, Saba, and Asia showing quilts large and small on a variety of topics.

CaFA: What precipitated your move to the Caribbean from the Netherlands—was the move intentional or did you land at Saba and say “this is it”?

Els
: There was an ad in a Dutch Newspaper for teachers for the High School on Saba and my husband and I applied. He became the principal of the SCS and I taught a.o. art, art history, history of culture, business and accounting.

CaFA: You’ve been a teacher on Saba, do tell us about that experience and how, if it did, it influenced your work.

Els
: I loved teaching and introducing these teenage boys and girls to the world of art and art culture of the region and have them make art themselves. I myself learned to appreciate even more the culture of the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America.

CaFA: Talk about your role and contribution to the fiber arts in the Caribbean.

Els
: For about 20 years I have been going to the San Blas Islands. I made friends with the Kuna Indians and bought their molas and mola blouses. I sold them in my shop and made lots of bags, potholders etc. out of them. Since the San Blas Islands are in the Caribbean Sea we can consider these beautiful pieces as Caribbean art and I introduced them to tourists from all over the world.

CaFA: Your art quilts have been exhibited all over the world, what prompted you to venture into the world of art quilting?

Els
: After retiring I started making wallhanging quilts and table runners with the mola pieces. After visiting an exhibition of landscape quilts in Holland from the fiber artist Ineke Berlyn, who herself was inspired by Ton Schulten, a painter I admire, I decided that was what I wanted and I started  making Saba/Caribbean landscapes.

That was the moment I knew I wanted to know more about art quilting and signed up for the City & Guild internet course Creative Quilting at Design Matters

CaFA: What prompted you to begin exhibiting your work? 

Els
: When I showed my landscape quilts in our local art gallery Judy Stewart, the owner, was so enthusiastic that she decided she wanted an exhibition as soon as possible.

CaFA: Much of your work is based on your own photography taken in the many places you have visited, would you share with us some of the memories behind pieces like Africa, Martinique, and Reinaldo? 

Els
: Africa I haven’t visited yet, but for years I am very much interested in petroglyphs and made pictures of them in a lot of different places my husband and I visited. Some of these pictures I used in the quilt AfricaMartinique is based on a picture I took in a small fisherman’s village in Martinique about 30 years ago. Reinaldo was the Kuna Indian who was in the front of the cayuco that brought us for the first time to the San Blas Island, Nalunega. That is where my interest in the molas started. So this quilt is very dear to my heart.

CaFA: From your work, it seems that you are as much a dyer as you are a quilter. What inspired you to and how do you incorporate and dyeing into your quilting?

Els
: I need lots of different color values in my work. Often I could not find the exact color I needed. Living on Saba, there is no possibility to go to a shop to buy fabric, so I started dyeing as a necessity, and now it is an addiction.

CaFA: The body of your work is noteworthy for its pensive solitude, sinuously flowing lines, and harmonious use of color, whether sewn or dyed. What message do you want someone viewing your quilt to take away? 

Els
: Our planet has so many beautiful places. The Caribbean is full of color. I want people to leave with a happy feeling of the beauty that surrounds us.

CaFA: The art quilt Protect Our Reef is based on a topic that has unfortunately been made political, ecology. In it, you depict the beauty and danger of unprotected reefs for the marine life. Would you talk us through your thinking and creative process here, in terms of how your imagery, your use of color, your quilting technique, and materials convey your message

Els
: I have been scuba diving for a couple of years and I was always in awe of the beauty and the colors of the reef. 

In this quilt I wanted to depict some of what I have seen. It is not based on a picture but just on my imagination. I dyed most of the fabric myself, the background is covered with rainbow organza, to give it the feeling of the sun shining through the water surface. Fishes and turtle are hand painted and appliquéd. The reef is constructed of painted and shrunk tyvek, lutrador with puff paste heated  and partly melted with a  heatgun. The coral fan is thread painted and the whole piece is quilted. It cost me at least 15 machine-needles to get the quilting done and lots of different colors machine thread.

CaFA: To your mind, is there a market for art quilting in the Caribbean?

Els
: Yes, for sure. I have sold already a lot of landscape quilts to people from the Caribbean and to tourists alike.

CaFA: To the best of your knowledge, is anything being done to foster and train new artisans in this field?

Els
: Not that I know in the Caribbean, but there are lots of possibilities online nowadays. To start with, becoming a member os SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) is a good idea. 

CaFA: Are there any limitations, do you think, to the developing of Caribbean art quilting—such as availability of equipment, for example?

Els
: It is harder to get equipment in the Caribbean, but you can almost buy everything you need online. My only problem is servicing my sewing machine because it is hard to get it on an airplane to bring it somewhere for service and there is no place nearby.

CaFA: What advice would you give to other quilters and young people in the Caribbean who see your work and want to emulate what you do?

Els:
To the quilters, I would say, keep working, don’t worry about the mistakes, just go on. Don't  sit and wait for inspiration because that comes while you're working. To the young people, I'd say, again, just start working, don’t worry about making mistakes, and don’t give up. Educate yourself with workshops online and, if possible, attend some workshops of a well known artist in person.

CaFA: Thank you for participating in this interview, Els.