Tuesday, 23 September 2014

An opportunity to learn from Abubakar Fofana of Mali, a master dyer of natural dyes.

I received a phone call from my friend Jinki asking if I would be interested in helping a friend of hers find a venue for natural dye workshops here in the Tweed. They already have a following in Melbourne and would like to venture up to the Northern Rivers. As the story unfolded I couldn’t believe what an incredible opportunity had fallen into my lap…..and yours! An opportunity to learn natural dying from the highly skilled and accomplished master dyer Aboubakar Fofana from Mali.

When I did some research on Aboubakar I discovered articles with beautiful photographs  published in The NewYork Times, Amercian Vogue and other online publications showcasing his work and exhibitions.

Not only that, Aboubakar is a warm engaging character, a natural teacher and keen to share his skills with us.
As any woman obsessed with textiles would, I have jumped at this golden opportunity to help Aboubakar and Johanna fill the workshops. Details are yet to be confirmed what we do know is the workshops will be in February 2015 at Hosanna in Stokers Siding, a venue providing accommodation and self catering for interstate travellers. This is only if we manage to fill the workshops. I think we can do it, help spread the word and lets make it happen! Get your name down on Johanna’s list ASAP!

Here are the links for more info on each workshop:

Here is a little something Johanna his agent wrote:

Aboubakar Fofana was born in West Africa but spent many years living and working in France.  His atelier is in Bamako, Mali, where he and his small team of trained artisans produce unique modern textiles using 100% natural processes and ancient indigenous techniques.
As a child in West Africa, Aboubakar Fofana was told about green leaves that made blue colours. Years later, already a successful calligrapher, artist and graphic designer living in France, he remembered this story, and started on a long journey to understand indigo and his African heritage.
The technique of fermented indigo dyeing using whole indigo leaves had already disappeared  from West Africa by the time Fofana first heard about it, replaced by synthetic dyes.  Fofana pieced together the technique by reading and asking, and by trial and error. It took many years to understand the process and longer again to master this difficult but unmatchable method of dyeing.  And he is still learning.
His work reflects the living materials he uses, harnessing their cycles of birth, life and decay, and the seasonal rhythms of nature. His indigo vats are alive as well, the colour a visible imprint of these natural cycles, and the most challenging part of his work is understanding and working with the living things to allow these colours to become visible.
He uses fine natural fabrics to take up these colours, with a preference for the luxurious organic Malian cotton, handspun and handwoven, that many of his pieces are made from.
Fofana is dedicated to preserving this tradition of fermented indigo dyeing, along with other West African textile techniques and indigenous materials.  His work has been exhibited all over the world.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rug Making with Bec Andersen

We set off from Murwillumbah in Jo's Craftmobile, our purpose was to get these four keen crafters to Mt Tambourine for Bec Andersen's Rug Making Workshop.

A full day ahead of learning how to upcycle discarded cotton sheets and clothing into useful, beautiful rugs. I was thrilled to share this fine day with three friends Jo, Julia and Christy for some quality time doing something we all enjoy and have now become quite addicted to.

We arrived at Bec's studio after the ever so steep incline of Tambourine Mountain, it was well worth the vertigo for the gob smacking panoramic views. Experiencing Bec's studio's sunlit creative space was thrilling. Naturally hand dyed skeins of wool hanging from the ceiling, dye vats on the deck and an eclectic mix of rug pile upholstered furniture scattered about the room. To one side a hand held rug making machine and frame that makes it possible for Bec to do bespoke rugs made to order. Simply stunning.

Bec's led the workshop with passion, enthusiasm and humour ..... she is quite a funny lady! The workshop started with intros around the room by a diverse mix of people. A group warm up session followed outside, it was a combination of brain gym, yoga, Tai chi, 80's rap dancing and laughter. Our fingers and arms were now nimble and ready to rug.

Bec showed us how to measure powder dye for the dye vat to get a intense yellow and then got the pot boiling to colour clothing we brought along. It was now time to make rugs. Cutting up material then punching, prodding or hooking colourful strips of fabric into a hessian backing. Oh so very satisfying.

And you know, in just over a week I have come close to completing a 50cm x 50cm cushion cover. If I keep this rate up I could very well have a 150cm x 200cm rug within 3 months, yes very optimistic with two small children to look after, but hey, it is possible.

Overall it was such a great way to spend the day with good friends and like minded people, a day of connection and creativity learning a new useful skill that gives me great pleasure that I will continue to use.

Would you like Bec to come to Murwillumbah and host a Craftschool rug making workshop?
If so, leave a comment on the Craftschool Facebook page or share this post and help spread the word. You could invite your friends and make a day of it like we did.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Welcome to Craftschool!

I'm pretty excited to be launching a new venture here in the Tweed Valley. Craftschool Workshops will bring people together to explore their creativity in a relaxed social setting while making an object of beauty with their hands. We have so many talented artists in our region who whould love to hold workshops. It's just a case of organising a venue and inviting you creative folk to come along.

We are about to start renovating at my place and I am thrilled the plans include a studio off the kitchen/main living area. I'll be able to watch the kids doing craft in a purpose built space while I'm cooking dinner, my idea of domestic bliss! This room will be dedicated to making all that we need to decorate this newly renovated family living space. Sure, it is a big call to say I'll make the lampshades, rugs, cushions wall hangings and do all my own upholstery. It will take some time but there is no rush. All I need is some instruction and this is how I came up with the idea of starting Craftschool.

Next Saturday I'm heading up to Tamborine Mountain to attend Bec Andersens Primitive Rug Hooking Workshop. This is where you cut up unwanted sheets and clothing into strips of yarn then, with a rug making tool punch holes into hessian and pull the yarn through to create loops that become the rug pile. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I picked up a book on rug making. So, if I can get enough of you interested Bec will come to Murwillumbah and do a workshop for us.

This year I have been holding regular Craftplay sessions at the Stokers Primary School Art Studio. Creatives have been invited to lead sessions in weaving, drawing, painting and sewing. Next week we are doing sculpture with the talented Jo Biles. I'll share more about Craftplay next time.

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