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Hand-dyed African Batiks

Hand-dyed in West Africa

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. All fabrics are dressmaking/craft weight.

Fabrics are 115 cm / 45 in wide, approximately. Fat Quarters are 50 x 55 cm / 20 x 22 in, approximately.

Per Fat Quarter: £4.60     Per metre: £18.40

More: About hand-dyed African batik

About hand-dyed African batik

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!

Wax + dye = batik

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.

Meet some of our favourite batik makers

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.

Great for clothing - perfect for patchwork

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.

Esther Amate stamping batik Accra GhanaGhanaian batik: Esther Amate applying wax using a foam rubber stamp.
Batik dye vat Accra GhanaOut of the dye vat: African batik fabrics dripping with colour.
Grace Adover batik Accra GhanaGrace Adover in her batik emporium: Accra, Ghana.
Neneh Jallow batik maker The GambiaNeneh Jallow: stunning batiks from The Gambia.
Batik jacket by Brett de JagerBatik jacket © Brett de Jager.
Grace Adover batik studio AccraApplying wax to batik at Grace Adover's workshop: Accra, Ghana

Batik Adventure Pack
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from £22.00ABA001
Batik Adventure Pack Jungle
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from £22.00ABA003
Batik Adventure Pack Savannah
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from £22.00ABA004
Batik Adventure Pack River
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from £22.00ABA005
Stamped Indigo Adventure Pack
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from £22.00AKN103
Esther 373
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Esther 409
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Esther 391
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Esther 423
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Esther 424 Damask
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Grace 425
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Esther 426 Damask
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Esther 427
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Esther 429 Damask
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Esther 430
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Grace 432
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Esther 433 Damask
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Betta 434
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Betta 435
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Esther 437
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Ho 438
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Nayak 440
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Esther 441
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Crack 444
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Neneh 445 Damask
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Esther 446 Damask
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Grace 447
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Esther 414
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Esther 416 Damask
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Neneh 422
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Crack 420
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Esther 403
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Esther 400
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Betta 401
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Indigo Stripe Damask
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Kola and Indigo Stripe Damask
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Indigo Damask
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Kenoo Tiles Indigo Damask
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Mansabaa Tiles Indigo Damask
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Muru Tiles Indigo Damask
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Bulloo Indigo Damask
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Fufu Indigo Damask
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Fufu Tiles Indigo Damask
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Jiyo Tiles Indigo Damask
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Suba Indigo Damask
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Kuntu Tiles Indigo Damask
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Kuntu Indigo Damask
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