Monday, 21 November 2011

Magie Relph, Kente Cloth, the patchwork way

Magie Relph Traditional African fabric: Kente cloth

Strip weaving is done by the men. The children go to school in the morning and in the afternoon the boys help the men. The Master weaver is in charge and sews the cloth together (quality controller). There are two styles – Ewe in the Volta region woven in blocks often with representational images and Aschanti who wove geometric designs allover (stripes, zigzags, diamonds. These were sewn up as wrappers for men and women; the men wore wrappers twice as big as the womens'. It was used for ceremonial wear. Colours have different meanings in different areas and each man has a pattern individual to him. They used stick markers in the weaving process. The yarns were mostly polycotton with some silk. There were also cheap printed versions, so everyone can keep the identity going.

During the workshop we recreated something of the patterns by machining pieces of fabric onto a vilene foundation, piece by piece. There was a need for precision with both sequence and machining. We needed to plan colour bearing in mind plain and complex blocks in the overall quilt; narrow strips of brightness gave a zing to the piece. Most of us managed two complex blocks during the days work.