Friday, March 31, 2006

Zawadi & Calabash Adinkra Dyeing Stamps




Today was the last day at my job. My staff took me to breakfast and my co-workers took me to lunch. It's been one of those weirdly wonderful days. It's always a little funny feeling after you leave a job, like, "Oooo...I have no idea what to expect next, but darn I'm looking forward to it!"

The U Street/Shaw area is a historic, vibrant neighborhood here in D.C. where my grandmother hung out in high school and remembers as "Black Broadway." In the 1920s-40s, it was known as the epicenter of Black life here in D.C. Performers such as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway were regulars here. Now it is filled with shops, clubs, lounges and restaurants. I love it.

In my happy giddy state on this beautiful warm day, I visited a favorite store named Zawadi, at 1524 U St. They specialize in African goods such as jewelry, home accessories and more. I got into a great conversation with the owner, Irene, about my favorite African country--Senegal--where I stayed for a month back in 2001 and where she regularly shops for her goods.

When I told her I was an art quilter, she pulled out a basket of African fabric remnants! The one above is from Mali, and it still has the threads in it from the resist stitch method the dyers used! They used a fine small running stitch. I also was tickled to find a calabash gourd stamp used to create adinkra fabrics in Ghana! My stamp's symbol is "Hye wo nhye"/"Unburnability", "toughness and imperishability of self." If you're ever in D.C., stop through! I'm sure you'll find something beautiful!

3 comments:

Ellen said...

Beautiful fabric! Sounds like a most interesting store, makes me wish I were close enough for a visit. I have a question about the calabash gourd stamp: is it made from just the gourd or is the stamp carved from a gourd and mounted on some other material? Any chance you can post a photo of the back of the stamp (showing the handle and braces)? I'm just curious about how the stamp was made. Your picture makes me wish I could pick it up for close examination--and of course I can't.

JulieZS said...

That fabric is lovely Elle! And what a cool stamp. I think the meaning of it fits you very well too. Can't wait to see what you make with it...

Deb H said...

Very cool! Love both the stamp & the fabric! I have a bunch of beautiful African fabric that I've collected. We have a couple from Seattle that has come for our Alaska Fiber Festival, who have a shop in Seattle called 2 Country Designs. He's from Africa, & they always bring beautiful fabrics & baskets & beads from Africa, that I LOVE.