Most of our hand-dyed batiks come from Ghana and The Gambia. Over the years we have developed wonderful friendships with many talented local dyers and batik artists.
We try to identify each fabric with the maker's name and many of our customers come back looking for fabrics by specific dyers.
All fabrics are 100% cotton. Some are a subtly woven damask; others are plain-weave cotton, as indicated. Dressmaking/craft weight: 150 grams per metre, approximately.
Fabrics are 115 cm / 45 in wide, approximately. Fat Quarters are 50 x 55 cm / 20 x 22 in, approximately.
Per Fat Quarter: £4.80 Per metre: £19.20
Hand-dyed batiks are produced in many countries in West Africa. We source most of our batiks in Ghana and The Gambia. Occasionally we buy elsewhere on our travels.
We buy directly from the makers - mostly women - who create their stunning fabrics in sometimes basic conditions in their family compounds. The work is hot and hard, but the fabrics are delicious!
The batik process in Africa - as elsewhere in the world, notably Java - is simple in theory, but complex in practice.
First, the theory. Wax + dye = batik. Applying wax to fabric creates a resist which dye cannot penetrate. Where there is wax, the fabric stays the colour it was before going into the dye vat. Where there is no wax, the dye colours the fabric.
Now, the practice. African batik makers use a variety of techniques and tools to apply their wax, including carved foam rubber and wooden stamps, sticks, combs, feathers and various brushes. They might drip wax from on high or splatter it with a whisk broom.
One layer of wax would be simple and so would the design. Add more layers of wax - sometimes as many as five - with a different coloured dye-dip between each waxing and the cloth becomes more complicated and appealing. That's the art of batik, African style!
The dyers use other techniques as well, including tieing and stitching to create a resist.
Esther Amate is a talented and experienced batik artist in Accra, Ghana. We've known Esther for more than ten years and her designs and colours are consistantly amazing. Esther uses foam rubber stamps in many of her designs: her wall of stamps just grows and grows! Esther's workshop is a family affair, with her daughter and son-in-law closely involved in production.
Grace Adover has been on the Accra batik scene for at least as long as Esther and has an equally devoted following - including The African Fabric Shop. Grace's workshop employs several skilled dyers and apprentices who are constantly innovating - under Grace's close scrutiny, of course.
Neneh Jallow in The Gambia is another of our favourite batik makers. She makes very special painted batiks, as well as wonderful tied stripes and marbled fabrics in colour combos that are both subtle and incredible.
Our batiks are all high quality, 100% cotton. Some are on plain weave cotton, others on a subtle damask weave. In Africa, these fabrics are used mainly for clothing and tailoring. Many or our customers use them for patchwork and quilting.