Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Killing The Dye

After spending the past two months working with all different kinds of craft workers, this weekend we had an opportunity to try our hand at doing something a bit creative ourselves. We met Madame Esther a couple of weeks ago during our quest for better quality leather for the Bolga leather workers. She has been working and teaching in the craft sector for years and will hopefully, if the next group of volunteers manage to secure funding, be carrying out training courses with some of the leather workers. These will teach them how to treat the leather hides that they buy from the Bolgatanga market, and will hopefully take place early next year. At the moment the hides are only treated once by the tanners, and they need to go through a second process to get rid of their not so nose friendly odour and to make them more hardy for export to colder climates.

In our first meeting with Esther we also asked her about any other kind of training she might be able to provide, having in mind the disabled women’s group and the smock makers who are looking to diversify their product ranges. This was when she mentioned batik and tie-dye and invited us to come over to her house for our very own training session!

So on Saturday we spent a lovely sunny day having a go at it all. We started with tie-dye, for which I had no knowledge bar a vague memory of some t-shirt making activity back in my primary school days. Therri and Dan went for a marbling technique which involved scrunching up the fabric into small pockets and then pouring dye over it leaving small white spaces dotted around.

.These came out beautifully as you can see from Therri’s rather fetching creation:

Bel got inventive and had a go at twisting her fabric into swirls and then spooning two different dyes over it:

The rest of us tried the folding method, where you pleat the fabric and then tie it with string so it ends up looking a bit like a Christmas cracker. 

 then dyed the fabric with two different colours, swapping where we had knotted the material. Ola will soon be sporting a new shirt:

Finally, Therri and I tried out a bit of batik, (by this time the others were all exhausted by so much hard work in the sun and were lounging on Madame Esther’s terrace…). For the batik, we built a small fire and then melted a slab of wax into it. This was when we realised that the woven fan shaped objects some of us had been using to fan our sweaty bodies with are actually meant for fanning fires. We then dipped a patterned wooden stamp into the wax and pressed it over the fabric.

After drying the fabric, we dyed it and then melted the wax off in boiling water. The parts where the wax had been printed stayed white, and the rest of the fabric was dyed. Whilst we’ve been here we’ve seen a lot of businesses and schools who have their uniforms made like this with their logo and name impressed all over their outfits, very different to a British school uniform! Unfortunately something went wrong with the dye and it didn’t hold on the fabric – I was the one mixing the chemicals so I probably put one spoonful too many of something in along the way…However, the lovely Esther is determined to fix it by dyeing it with a darker colour so we’ll be meeting her this week to see the results. Overall, a brilliant day with an excellent and very patient host who we are thrilled to have on board with our project!

By Hannah

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