Friday, January 20, 2017

Volta Region Vacation

The beautiful, lush tropical forest on the way to the falls, look up high--very dry
We took a trip the Ghana countryside during the New Years holiday.  The trip up to the Volta region is a bit of a slog.  For many miles the road is being rebuilt so future trips should be more comfortable, but we did not get much benefit since the new roads are blocked from use.  For a long stretch the road was incredibly dusty and deeply potholed.  We got stuck behind a truck which kicked up so much dust the visibility was like driving through a blizzard.
We stayed at lodge in a small village outside of Wli Falls next to the Togo border.  The lodge had a terrific garden.  To add to the relaxing environment there was no wifi and, because a large pole fell down in a couple towns nearby, there was also no electricity for most of our stay.  The hotel had a generator but since this was a holiday weekend and there are few cars around, it took many hours to get to the nearest gas station and back. To take a way from the relaxing environment, the lodge is next to a very loud church, which amplifies it's nightly services.  On our first night there was a particularly aggressive preacher loudly exhorted his crowd until 11 or so. 
The falls and the walk leading up to them are stunning. The people were very friendly.  As villagers walked past us they often said, 'you are welcome.'  The guide for our walk to the falls, added some ground cola nut to a bottle of water and it turned bright orange over a period of a half hour or so. 
On our way home we stopped by Tafi Atome Monkey preserve.  The Mona monkeys will jump right on you for a bit of banana.  The whole family enjoyed being so close to them.
In the photo essay below, I took care to not take clear photographs of people--the villages were not actually empty.
Wli Falls, the highest falls in Ghana

rocks to the side of Wli falls

Ficus tree from outside of our lodge

House in the village of Wli-Afegame

The children were interested in the goats, but the goats were nervous

Village houses being built.  Also a gutter for the rain--don't fall in.

Cocoa Bean

Mona Monkey mama

These monkeys are not shy about the bananas

Monday, December 12, 2016

Amethyst River Flow

Not too long ago, I took a trip with my camera to Aburi Botanical Gardens, a somewhat neglected, but still beautiful botanical garden outside of Accra. The gardens were full of great texture, especially the mosses and rocks.  I used these photographs as a jumping point to make a series of fabric designs. Amethyst River Flow was the version of the design I chose to make into a wrap dress from poly crepe de chine.  The fabric is pretty light weight and has good drape. 
Oh, and FREE SHIPPING world wide until 12:00 EST 12/13.

See this fabric in my shop here

See this fabric in my shop here

See this fabric in my shop here


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Art Deco PJs

My youngest boy loves lounge wear. Playing on his computer or with his video games are his favorite things to do after jumping on the trampoline.  When he gets home from school, he just wants to put on something soft and comfy.  So, as soon as he saw a sample of Spoonflower's fleece he wanted something made in it.  It is very soft and not too heavy to wear.  I let him select any of my designs and he picked the turquoise and green shades of Modern Style Art Deco Greens and Japanese Fan Scale Dots Green and Turquoise because the geometric patterns appealed to him and the colors made him happy. 
You can purchase almost the same thing in a pre-printed pattern from Sprout Patterns--the Jasper Pajamas and the Kids Recess Raglan or for a bigger sized top I would suggest the Lane Raglan
While you are at Sprout Patterns get in on the 50% off Sale of the Holiday Stockings and Lined Zipper Pouches 'til 11/9.  Use code BOGOFQ.  You still have enough time to make them for gifts and they are super easy.  (I shared making some of these pouches in an earlier post.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Textiles in Tema and other reasons to go there

Kente cloth: Hand woven in strips and stitched together
Recently I went to Tema, a large, industrial port town near Accra.  One of the guidebooks suggests that there is no reason to visit Tema.  Maybe that is true for the casual tourist.  Tema has a lot to offer to a person who lives here.  You will need to bring a cooler. 

If you can get up early, the International fish market or the local makes a great stop.  The fish, shellfish and other offerings are fresh and you can get your items deboned for a small fee.  Other must see markets are a couple of Korean grocery stores and Malicat (also known as Calumet), the German butcher shop. The German butcher absolutely has the best sausages and frankfurters I have had in Ghana. 
Lawrence and his assistant in their shop
My friends and I focused on textiles during this trip to Tema.  Our first fabric stop was to Lawrence and his kente shop.  Sometimes members of his workshop come to Accra to craft markets but only at the studio can you see the full range of products and the kente weavers.  In the large chests are bedspread sized kente that chief wear during special occasions.
discussing the embroidered elements in this teal kente
Our next stop was an open air batik studio.  One of our group ordered a personalized batik print from Eveline's batik studio.  Personalized batiks are a great way to get an affordable fabric for a small group.

The batik workshop

At the end of a busy morning, the place I like to go to relax is the garden-like atmosphere of Arirang, a Korean Restaurant.

Last Post update: Congratulations to KG who won the 500th design give away!
Ironing the batik with an old fashioned metal iron

Eveline owns the shop, she is holding up some batik

dye buckets and boiling kettles

Rooster resting on an upside-down grocery cart

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Line of Ghana Fantastic Floral Series and Giveaway

This past week, I released my 500th design for sale at my Spoonflower shop.  I am giving away 2 yards of my fabric--any fabric, any of my designs.  To enter the drawing, comment on your favorite fabric either in my shop or on this post.  For a second entry, give it a heart on Spoonflower.  Contest ends Friday, October 14. Featured in the photo, one of my new designs, Ghana Fantastic Floral on Black Petite.
Ghana Fantastic Floral Black Petite

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

NesKael Fashion show

Last Friday I  attended the Neskael Corporate Fashion show a precursor to Ghana Fashion week happening October 21-23.  The focus of the Neskael show was to promote the use of African textiles, particularly Ghanaian fabrics, in the workplace.  It is custom to wear African print in the office environment on Fridays.  The rest of the week most people in the workplace wear Western style business clothes.  One of the goals of the Neskael Corporate Fashion show is to promote greater use of African textiles during the week which in turn is meant to encourage economic development.  The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative arts is also promoting the idea and was one of the patrons of the event.
Several Ghanaian textiles were highlighted in the event.  GTP, a African wax printer in Ghana and one of the designers in the show, has line of fabrics 100% Ghanaian. In this line, the cotton used is grown, milled and printed in various regions of Ghana.  The collection from The Tailor used a grey and white paisley design from Woodin, another Ghanaian fabric printer.  The designer, Safora, uses the woven material of a traditional smock popular here, called a fugu or batakari. 
The models for each designer of clothing or accessories did a traditional walk down the catwalk to party music.  At the end of the each collection's presentation, the models grouped together to do a dance or other display.  I enjoyed this so much I put together a little video of some of these dances.  This also gives you an opportunity to see the clothes without viewing the entire presentation.  Also included in the video is a snippet of the performance from guest artist Sherifa Gunu.  Not all designers or performers at the event are included in the video.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Ghanian Artist Spotlight: Seth Clottey and Reflections Class

Seth Clottey introducing his painting philosophy
This past week I had the pleasure of attending another Eat and Paint event.  At these events, a well-known guest artist spends an evening with us, sharing his/her painting techniques on a small project.  This event featured Seth Clottey.  Seth graduated from Ghanatta College of Art.  He is a frequent traveler and has exhibited in West Africa, Europe, the United States and Japan.
Seth primarily paints landscapes and is most interested in the play of light on water and reflections.  The theme for our event was a wet city street.
Seth shared with us that when he begins to sketch a design for a new painting, he prefers to begin directly with a pallete knife. He said "pencils are limited," "I 'feel' it with the knife," "the knife allows me to get to the heart of it." A pencil would be too fiddly to be compatible with the gestural and impressionistic quality of his work.  After his initial discussion he allowed us to rough sketch a city scene from memory. 

Painting in oil by Seth Clottey
Next, we blocked in the sky with the pallete knife and then blended the strokes with paint brushes and created a wash for the 'wet' area of the canvas.  We followed this by sketching in suggestions of detail, such as cars, trees, stories of buildings and people.
At this point we took a break for our gourmet dinner.  Dinner consists of bite size gourmet items and drink of choice.  It is quite tasty with many different flavors.  The break is also a nice time to walk around and see how others are coming on their canvas.

Discussing how to block out your sketch in paint
We finished the evening creating highlights and reflections with the pallet knife and filling in some details with the brushes.  Seth's style of painting is quite different from my own work and it expanded my repertoire.  
A Unique Opportunity:  Seth is offering a short term artist in residence program.  In his vision an artist would come and stay with him for a time and he would share his techniques while you paint together.  If you are interested in more information, please contact him at (+233) 244 613 189 or at his gmail account, lyvnright.
There will be a second workshop available on October 4th.  Contact Eat and Paint for reservations.
my sketch and starting to fill in some details

break for dinner--delicious gourmet food

paintings in progress

my painting finished for the night

Painting in oil by Seth Clottey