Monday, May 30, 2011

Fabric Shopping in Gabon

I thought you might like to see what a typical fabric shopping trip looks like here in Libreville. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours!! I often go to a neighborhood called "Petit Paris" and look at African fabrics in one or two (or more) of the small shops there. The typical shopper is buying fabric to have clothing made, so the shops sell fabric in six yard chunks. This is more than I'd normally buy for a project, but since I have a group of friends here who are also interested in making quilts from African prints, we trade amongst ourselves, and end up with a slection of one-yard lengths to play with.

So here's a dashboard photo of the street along the way.....don't worry, a friend is driving! And a couple of photos of the fabrics stacked floor to ceiling in the shop. What a great riot of color! It's so hard to choose just a couple of pieces and leave the rest there----they might be gone next time we come shopping! It's true I tend to want to buy everything, but I do manage to leave some of the fabric there for the next person, or the next shopping expedition. :)

I've also included here a photo of some of the signs marking the fabrics that have been chosen as the group fabric for people's weddings or anniversary celebrations. The tradition here and in several other parts of Africa is that invited guests can come to the fabric shop and see which print the bride and groom or the anniversary couple have chosen for all the guests to wear. The guests then buy the fabric and have clothing made out of it, and everyone at the celebration has an outfit that matches! It's a great custom, and makes everyone invited feel part of the event. It also makes for great group photos!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Purplemeister

I've finally finished a project I started with some friends in Canada! Of course, the deadline passed some time ago, but I couldn't have been in the show anyway, since I'm a bit far away.... Anyway, it's purple. It's not just a little bit purple, it's VERY purple. It started as a color study exchange with some fiber art friends. We pulled colors out of a hat to start, and I got purple. Then when we added a second color, I got red. Yellow was the third and last color I got, and this quilt is the piece that I made from the blocks the other members of the group made for me.

I've inserted a photo of the square blocks I received in the exchange, and and another of the quilt that grew out of the blocks. I've included a detail shot showing one block stamped with an Oshiwa block done by a friend who had been in one of my fabric stamping classes! For now, I'm calling this piece the Purplemeister---it just seemed appropriate somehow.... :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reporting in from Libreville, Gabon

After a short break (ok, it's been over a year!) I'm now writing from Libreville, Gabon, where my husband has taken up his posting as Ambassador in the U.S. Embassy here. We arrived in October, and have been happily exploring this extravagantly green country since then. I'm putting in just a couple of photos to give you an idea of our surroundings. One is of the Residence and the other is one of the beautiful sunsets we are priviledged to enjoy almost daily. It's been wonderful to be back in Africa---I love the intense activity of life in the markets, and the vibrancy of the colors here, not to mention the sight of women (and some men) wearing clothes made from the fabulous African prints I just adore! I'm happy to report that I've managed (just) to avoid stopping the car every five seconds to ask if I can take pictures of yet another great outfit on a passerby.....

I'm busy working again, and as proof, I offer a photo of my design wall with some pieces that I'm working on now.

On the left is a black and white collection of fabric I've printed with my Oshiwa blocks, mixed with some commercial black and white prints. I haven't decided yet exactly how I'm going to put this together, but it will have vertical columns with some texture.....

On the right is a hexagon quilt top with a bright mix of fabrics I've printed or over-printed with Oshiwa blocks, assembled with pieces cut from some of my African prints. I'm contemplating borders and some fun quilting.....

In the center are the first two of a series of foot-square pieces I'm making with the idea that one of them will go to the SAQA auction. I printed up way too many pieces of great batiks with gold fabric paint, but working in a series is supposed to be good for artistic growth, so I'm having at it. :)

In the lower part of the center is a pillow-top in the making. I used one of my hexagons with a croc printed on it as a centerpiece, and then I stitched bunches of the scraplets from the hexagon quilt onto interfacing foundations to make the surrounding hexagons. It's pretty shaggy, which makes me happy, and isn't that what creating things is supposed to do?