Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adinkra Class

I spent two wonderful days in the hill country on Thursday and Friday facilitating an adinkra workshop. Adinkra is a textile art technique in which sacred symbols are stamped on a cloth in a grid pattern. There are over 100 adinkra symbols, so each cloth carries its own message based on the combination of symbols used. The technique originated in Ghana and was traditionally used for funerals (adinkra means “goodbye”). Adinkra cloth is now used for a variety of occasions.

The workshop was held at Majestic Ranch Arts Foundation, a wonderful art center in Boerne, TX. It is located on 525 acres in the hill country, with beautiful views and the peaceful sounds of nature all around.

This is one of my favorite workshops to teach. Participants start with white fabric and dye it to a color of their choosing.

Then they choose symbols that are relevant for the cloth they are making.

Once the cloth is dyed and the symbols are carved, the design work begins. Some participants chose to use the traditional grid pattern, others used a different approach, based on the pattern created on the cloth during dyeing.

Each cloth is created with intention. Participants are guided through a visualization process to help them determine who the cloth will be for, what symbols are appropriate for the cloth and how the cloth will be used. Examples of some of the cloth that have been created in the workshops include:
  • a cloth to welcome a new baby to the family
  • a cloth to represent a lifetime of growth and experience
  • a healing cloth
  • a cloth in honor of a son who had passed away years earlier
  • a cloth to honor a friend on her birthday

The symbols used and the meaning behind the cloth are as varied and individual as the participants. The stories behind the cloth are what make them so special.

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