African Wax Print Story
In sales and marketing vernacular, ‘African print’ is a general term used to decribe textiles using 100% cotton fabric in vibrant colors which are printed by machine using wax resins and dyes so that they have a batik-like effect on both sides of the fabric. It is very popular and you may have heard of it before.
The method is called wax-resist dying because the wax ‘resists’ the dye from penetrating the entire cloth, which is how patterns are made. It also goes by the names of super wax, java, and Ankara, with ‘wax’ named fabrics having a somewhat glossy, stiff, waxy feeling surface even though they are roller printed. There is also fake fabriks and wax prints, so make sure the pattern and color is the same inside-out and the fabric should be a bit stiff.
Kantha Quilt Story
The first written mention of Bengali Kantha appeared about five hundred years ago, in the Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, a book by Krishnadas Kaviraj. In the book, the author makes note of a Kantha quilt sent to him by his mother. It’s not so hard to imagine the love and care a mother would put into the careful stitching and choice of fabrics. She might have sewn her own saris into the quilt or those of other female family members.
The Kantha throws and quilts you see today have evolved out of a rich tradition. For many centuries, Bengali women living in the poorest regions have produced Kantha quilts and cushions as a way to cheaply reuse old fabric. In Bangladesh, old cloth is said to have protective qualities.
They feature a very simple, straight running stitch. The patterns are often creative, spontaneous, original, and emotional. Kantha quilts could take years to complete and were often embroidered with patterns that told stories, expressed wishes, and indicated the quilt’s maker. Fabric carries so many emotions and can, quite literally, feel like a warm hug full of memories and positive feelings.
Sweetgrass baskets story
The art of weaving sweetgrass baskets has been passed down from generation to generation, from mother to daughter. The art is usually learned from childhood and requires a great deal of patience and creativity. Originally designed as a tool for rice production, the sweetgrass basket has evolved to a decorative art. Today, sweetgrass basket weaving remains an integral piece of the cultural fabric of Rwanda.
The artisans use a needle and thread to wrap hand-dyed strands of agave plant around bunches of sweetgrass to create durable baskets in an impressive range of patterns and colors. Depending on the size and shape, each basket can take one weaver anywhere from 60-70 hours to make. The baskets today are made from sweetgrass, pine needles, bull rush, palm and banana leaves.