ABOUT OUR FABRICS
Ankara is 100% cotton fabric also known as African wax, Veritable wax, Wax block prints, Dutch wax among others. It is industrially produced, colourful cotton woven cloth with batik style printing. One feature of this materials is the lack of difference in the colour intensity of front & back side. The wax prints are a way of communication among African women. Even though Ankara fabrics are associated with the African culture, it’s origins are not entirely African. Dutch wax prints started out as mass produced imitations of Indonesian batik fabric. It was originally intended for the Indonesian market but found a more enthusiastic market in West Africa, where it quickly became a symbol of social, political and personal status. It symbolises traditional and high quality fashion. Over time, the prints became more African-inspired, and African-owned by the mid-1900s. Some of the producers of African wax print are Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria. From West Africa, this fabric spread to other parts of Africa and all over the world.
Batik is made in many places in Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Mali to name a few. Bazin is a cotton Jacquard fabric that is often used as the base cloth today. Traditionally a wild silk or cotton would have been used. Firstly, a cloth is washed, soaked and beaten with a large mallet. Although wax is used in many places, starch paste is predominantly used in Africa. The paste is most often made from cassava flour, rice, alum or copper sulphate boiled together to produce a smooth thick paste. The Yoruba of West Africa used cassava paste as a resist while the Fulani and Wolof people of Senegal use rice paste. The paste is applied in two different ways. Freehand drawing of traditional designs using a feather, thin stick, piece of fine bone or a metal or wooden comb like tool. This method is often a womens art form where the next method is often done by the men. The paste is forced through a thin metal stencil with a flexible metal or wooden tool. This creates a more accurate repeat patterns and is quicker. The designs on a cloth is usually a family tradition handed down from mother to daughter. Once the paste resist is dry, the fabric is dyed in large clay pots or pits dug into the ground. Traditionally an indigo dye was used as it is a native plant which grows throughout Africa. In many places these are now cultivated and different varieties produce a variation of the dark blue colour. After drying the paste is scraped off to reveal a white or pale design. The areas treated with resist keep their original colour when the resist is removed the contrast between the dyed and un-dyed areas forms the pattern. This process is repeated as many times as the number of colours desired.
Kente, Traditionally Kente fabric was hand woven for African royalty, each with their own unique and intrinsic meaning. Today it more widely available in a printed format, Kente Print fabric.These designs are some of the most popular and well recognised of all african fabrics. Premium quality, durable 100% cotton fabric, perfect for quilting, African dresses and other clothing, head wraps, homewares and many more applications.
Indigo cloth comes in many shades of blue from a deep blue to a shiny bronze when beaten into the fabric. Derived from the Indigofera plant family, indigo dye has been used amongst cultures all over the globe to produce their traditional textiles. It is particularly popular in Western Africa where it signified wealth, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Senegal, have been crafting Indigo cloth for centuries. Techniques vary from culture to culture, but patterns can be created by resist dyeing or a method using stitching, folding, or tying to prevent the dye from coloring the whole cloth.
Mud cloth each one is unique and has been handmade using traditional techniques by artisans in Mali. First the local cotton is loosely spun and then woven in strips from the soft spun cotton. Then the strips are sewn together to create a large piece. The designs are painted, stamped and dip dyed varying combinations and designs through a process of several months. The different types of iron rich muds reacting with each other are what create the different colours. Traditionally these would be worn by the local people but they also make wonderful homewares too.