Tuesday, May 2, 2023

African Fabrics and scraps of life

 As I was doing some gardening the other day, trying for yet another field of sunflowers

and preparing and sowing a space on the side of the lawn where I want butterflies and bees to hang out

and enjoying my abundance of tulips

I also encountered this water-filled wheel-barrow (with a disfunctional tyre, definitely need to get that fixed!) 


and thought about what an interesting place to put some eco-dyeing in this might be if I were attracted to that activity. As it is, I only took photos and a little video and went back to digging, listening to the birds, trying to identify them with my app ("uncertain analysis - human", when our noisy machine-prone neighbor is again running one of his zillions of machines) and thinking about life and passage of time.

Yesterday evening I sank the last threads on my baby's 18th birthday quilt

and as we were burning the birthday candles this morning

on the birthday train that has been serving us since his completion of the first trip around the sun - it has been lacking the appropriate numbers for many years now because they stop at 6, I mean, who would stop using this train when the child starts going to school? (but, note to self: it might be worth looking for additional numbers, perhaps...) - my feeling of slight melancholia at this progression in his life span continued. He is in the middle of final High School Exams, so no grand party today as he has an exam tomorrow, but he took the car entirely by himself this morning, no more assisted driving. I never gave a thought to how my mother felt as her three children turned into adults one by one on this conventional date of beginning of adulthood. I wasn't even home, I was spending the year in the US, and to be honest, I don't have much of a memory of how we spent the day there... 

In any case, this is the finished birthday quilt, with all threads sunk - please excuse the bad lighting.

My listening experiences during commutes to work have recently given me more intricate knowledge about the history of African Wax fabrics, which I have liked for a long time, albeit not used much in my quilting or making. The Haptic&Hue podcast episode on African Wax cloth is a rich reservoir of details and information that I absolutely enjoyed listening to, even though I had known some of the aspects connected with the topic. The vibrancy of the colors and the pride connected to wearing these fabrics is very impressive. I had not known the entirety of the colonization process that lies behind this story however, and it made me think more intensively about how much the world is connected, how little of our daily things we 'use' or understand as pure, or traditional or 'ours' remains just that. It makes the entire discussion around "cultural appropriation" just a lot more complicated. (There is a shop in Munich, including an online store, where you can buy traditionally cut Dirndl-dresses made from African Fabrics: Noh Nee. Which side is appropriating which in this case? The dresses are gorgeous - and if I were ever to wear a Dirndl, it would be one of theirs... I think I will take a detour on a trip tomorrow to finally go and look at this shop, which I have been wanting to do for a long time.)

When one of my senegalese friends went home to visit her family recently I asked her whether she would mind to bring me back a 'bag of scraps' from the market, because I had an idea for making a quilt. She has recently returned - and this is the bag of scraps she brought:

It's big. And sewn together.

She says she tried several times, explaining what she wanted, but the merchants would not comply, even though they agreed they would save some scraps in the next days. Every time she came back, they had sewn them together already, giving the younger sewists practising time on sewing on the maching, and wanting to sell the top. She says she had told them she would pay the same price for the weight or whatever they wanted - no chance. Finally, she went ahead and bought a whole top, suggesting I should just cut it upand make from it whatever I was planning to do. That I can't get myself to do right now - because I hate unpicking, for one thing, and just cutting it up feels disrespectful to the tailor's work. 

I may take off just two or three of the strips and cut those up for what I was planning. That way the entire piece would remain sort of intact - I could add a border? and quilt it? because it is unfaced right now - and still start on my African Scraps quilt... Well, right now there are a few other things in the pipeline, I can still think about it for a little while.

No comments:

Post a Comment