I made this quilt for my friend's daughter, Pia. A couple of summers ago, she went to Ghana for a work- study program sponsored by NYU. She fell in love with the country and its people. But most of all, she fell in love with the colorful and graphic fabrics they used for their clothing and costumes. After her internship, to her mother's surprise, she came home with suitcases filled with these fabrics. While in Paris, I was privy to a show and tell of these wonderful works of Ghanaian folk art that Pia lovingly and dare I say, obsessively collected. Each one was special in its own right. Some were obviously traditional African, others looked like Andy Warhol paintings, worthy of any modern art museum in the world. I decided that I'd like to make a quilt from one of these fabrics for Pia, if I can get her to part with even a scrap.
Between the two of us, we chose the fabric featured in the center of the quilt. It has a very graphic turquoise, black and cream design. The fabric had the same design and color value and hue front and back so it is obviously hand dyed and hand printed. I had to figure out a design that would use the piece of cloth with the least loss of fabric. So I utilized the entire Ghanaian cloth for the center of the quilt without trimming it and found some similarly graphic fabrics for the border to enhance the center. I used another African-influenced print flannel for the backing and bound the entire quilt with a solid black to act as a frame. I hand quilted the entire quilt as guided by the dictates of the design of the fabrics I used.
While making this quilt, I was so intrigued by this fabric that I did research on Ghanaian fabrics and found out that they were produced using the Dutch wax-resist process influenced by the Javanese batik process and designs. I happen to love Indonesia batiks and ikat woven materials. Later the designs and colors evolved into more African in nature. I read that the patterns and colors often represent specific meaning to the wearer. It can represent fables, proverbs and historical events. The colors can represent age, tribal orientation, or marital status. But I think, sometimes folks use them because they're just pretty and fun. That's what I would do for sure. I completely understand Pia's fascination. I hope the market for these fabrics remain strong.
|At the fabric market in Accra, Ghana|
|A riot of color at Ghanaian fabric stall.|