Friday, December 13, 2013

African Fabrics

Fourth graders looked at fabrics from Tanzania, Mauritania, and Senegal. They brainstormed common characteristics, including geometric shapes, bright colors, and, stylized objects from nature, and patterns.

Here is a kanga fabric from Tanzania that they saw and discussed:


Each kanga contains a blessing or a wish. This message in Swahili translates as:

"Destined to be safe, I remain protected, and your evil wishes have not materialized."

Here is a hand-dyed fabric from Senegal. It is several yards long and was made with a batik technique. It is a piece of clothing that wraps around the body.


The students had a fun time guessing the function of this fabric from Mauritania.  Can you guess what it is? Hint: Look at the loops...


It is a khaimah, a Mauritanian tent. The white side faces up, toward the hot desert sun. The colorful inside provides a beautiful canopy for those who sit inside.

After exploring these beautiful fabrics, the fourth graders sketched their own geometric designs. Then, they carved them into styrofoam sheets, which they used as printing plates. They rolled printing ink onto the printing plate, being careful not to put on too little or too much ink. With practice and experience, they learned to use the correct amount by both looking at the styrofoam and listening to the sound as the roller went back and forth over the ink- ideally, it should make a sticky noise.

Here are some of the results of their hard work: