To Mali We Go For Textiles
It’s the dead of winter here in North America and oh how I’m missing a warmer climate. Lucky me I get to jump on a plane to Africa shortly. But for today, in minus 20C weather, won’t you join me on a trip to Mali? We’ll travel by blog post. Mali is one of my very favourite countries. Warm and gracious people where ever you turn, incredible food and it’s where I go for textile inspiration. Malians are known internationally for their incredible textiles. Here’s a peak in a stall at a textile market. I can’t get enough of the bright, bold designs. All the textiles are waxed, woven and dyed by hand. Some of the patterns you see are created by tying rice grains just so into the fabric before dyeing to create the remarkable patterns and symbols quintessential to Malian textiles. In some cases these patterns are a family emblem of sorts, passed down through generations. Symbols for moral principles and historical references are often included in cloths. Indeed, textile production is a centuries’ old tradition in Mali with strong cultural roots. I chose these gorgeous batik prints and couldn’t wait to take them home and turn them into these: I used these bold Batik prints to make fabulous covers for down-filled pillows, sure to liven up your seated areas. Malian artisans create their cottons and other materials using a foot powered loom. It’s mesmerizing to watch them weave with such speed and deft skill. Beyond fabrics, I’ve seen artisans produce amazing woven furniture and accessories. Beading is another long held artisan tradition in Mali. Created from clay, wood, cast away metals, beads are formed and sculpted by hand. I love the chunky oversize beads that are also intricately etched and engraved. Such fine detail married with an organic feel. I couldn’t help but choose a few special pieces for my own collection when visiting a local bead stall. This necklace below is created from beads woven from recycled metal wire. I love its shimmer. Even the tiniest Malians are adorned with beads. How darling is this perfect little hand! I so look forward to my trips to Mali. Such a rich culture and beautiful people making beautiful things. I take great pride in the way I do business on these buying trips. I love interacting directly with the artists and artisans who make these stunning pieces, I never go through middlemen. In the end the transactions are happy ones for everyone and I feel it when I’m so warmly welcomed back on my return. And I love being able to share the skill, cultural voice and individual stories through the pieces I choose with you here at home.