My Order Menu The African Fabric Shop  African Textile Stories
+44 (0)1484 850629

Contact Us

African Textile Stories

Our published stories about African textiles and beads

Magie Relph and Bob Irwin have travelled the length and breadth of Africa for over 30 years, researching, buying and documenting African textiles, fabrics and beads.

In addition to our acclaimed book African Wax Print: A Textile Journey, we continue to write informative and entertaining articles for numerous magazines.

These stories mean a lot to us. They document our adventures and record the textile traditions we've learned about from artisans and traders all over Africa.

Here are a few of our published stories in PDF format. We hope you enjoy them.

About PDF documents 

By default, most browsers open PDF documents in a new browser tab, which is not always ideal. If a PDF does not appear clearly in your browser, we recommend saving the PDF to your device and then reopening it in your PDF viewer - in most cases Adobe Acrobat or the Apple Preview app.

Magie Relph and Bob Irwin in Pemba, Moçambique Magie Relph and Bob Irwin doing research in Pemba, Moçambique

An African Six Pack

In this very short article, Bob proves that wise adage of Old African Hands: the only thing you can count on in Africa is the beer.

Sorry, no textiles. But we hope you enjoy it anyhow.

Words and images © Robert Irwin

Read and print story An African Six Pack

First published in More Travellers’ Tales from Heaven and Hell, Travellers Eye Publications, 1999.

Bob enjoys a cold Star beer in an Accra street bar, 2019

A Mad Dash: Flying Down to Lagos

Travel in Africa can sometimes be a real challenge. Bob certainly found that on this legendary journey from Kano to Lagos in Nigeria back in the 1980s.

Sorry, no textiles. But we hope you enjoy it anyhow.

Words and images © Robert Irwin

Read and print story A Mad Dash: Flying Down to Lagos

African Safari magazine, 1995

What ever the problem, there's always a solution

To the Dogon in Search of Indigo

Mali's Bandiagara Escarpment is a long way from anywhere. Remote, rocky and relentlessly hot, it's home to the Dogon people. They're best known for their traditional animist beliefs and burying their dead in cliff-face caves high above their villages in the valley.

All very interesting, of course. But our quest was indigo.

Words and images © Robert Irwin and Magie Relph

Read and print story To the Dogon in Search of Indigo

Patchwork and Quilting, 2009

Fatmata Babage, indigo dyer:
Endé, Pays Dogon, Mali

Kuduo: lost wax casting of the Ashanti kingdom

Think bee's wax, manipulated and molded into models of tiny beads, pendants and artefacts.

Think recycled brass: corroded padlocks, broken taps and salvadged car parts.

Think fire, intense and red hot.

Using these basic elements, the brass bead makers of Kofofrom employ ancient 'lost wax' technology to cast their traditional beads and artefacts.

Words and images © Robert Irwin

Read and print story Kuduo: lost wax casting of the Ashanti Kingdom

Bead Society Journal, 2020

Join the Bead Society of Great Britain

Lost wax casting - cire perdue:
Kofofrom, Ghana

Artists in Appliqué: the tentmakers of Cairo

Cairo's Khayamia Street - the Street of the Tentmakers - is off the beaten track and of another time. It's where the ancient Cairo tradition of needle-turned appliqué art still survives, practiced by a dwindling number of exceptional textile artists.

Words and images © Robert Irwin and Magie Relph

Read and print story Artists in Appliqué

Popular Patchwork, 2008

Hany el-Sayed Amed, tentmaker:
Khayamia Street - Street of the Tentmakers - Cairo

Salon International l'Artisanat de Ouagadougou: fabric hunting in Africa

The hunt for fabrics in Africa is constantly in flux.

Take Africa's biggest arts and crafts festival, SIAO - the Salon International l'Artisanat de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.

Once it was one of our regular hunting grounds. From it's multitudes of artisan makers and itinerant traders, we discovered many textiles for the very first time - Mauritania's distinctive malafa cloth, for example.

Today, Burkina Faso is way too dangerous to visit. Here's what it was like before: textile heaven.

Words and images © Robert Irwin and Magie Relph

Read and print story Fabric Hunting in Africa with Nana Benz

Popular Patchwork, 2007

Oumar Cisse - aka 'Peace Corp Baba':
SIAO, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
 
The African Fabric Shop uses cookies. For more information see our privacy policy.