Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adinkra Inspired Fabrics

Adinkra Inspired Fabrics

Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, that represent concepts or aphorismsAdinkra are used extensively in fabrics, pottery, logos and advertising. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural features. Fabric adinkra are often made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing.

The symbols have a decorative function but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs.

Asante boys going to a dance in adinkra robes, 1973, Accra. Color is important in adinkra garments; darker hues are reserved for funerary dress, while white or brightly colored garments are used for festive occasions.

We bagan this class by looking at Adinkra symbols and examples of Adinkra cloth. We talked about the ability of the symbols to tell a story.  We also discussed the process used to create these beautiful fabrics. 

Now that we had our inspiration we set out to 1create our own symbol, 

2make a stamp of that symbol, and 3use our stamp to create an Adinkra 

inspired cloth of our own.

Supplies needed:
paper for sketching
wooden blocks
craft foam
acrylic paints and brushes

The Process:

I had the students begin by sketching a few ideas for symbols that they could create a stamp from. Once a symbol was chosen and simplified we transfered that image to a piece of craft foam. We cut the symbol out and adhered it to a wooden block. (I had a friend who likes to put all her store bought stamps onto acrylic blocks and had all of her wooden discards lying around! I love when things like this find a home in my studio!)

We took a moment at this point to practice printing our newly made stamps onto copy paper. This was a good way to test that our vision was being relayed but it also gave us a chance to look at one another's symbols. We agreed to share our new library of symbols and stamps in order to make more interesting designs. I love when students collaborate!

Finally, we laid out our fabric and began to stamp it with our symbols in acrylic paint. 

Check out our terrific results!

simple craft foam was used to create the stamp

some of our finish, and used, stamps

I love the experiments with color!

we used ice cream bucket lids for our stamp pads and sometimes needed the help of a brush

1 comment:

  1. This looks really cool and like something I would enjoy!