Friday, February 28, 2014

Week 7: Fabric to Dye For

Our environmental club this week was upgraded to an intense 3-hr training session on fabric dyeing. Our whole team and 5 Kabeela women cycled to the nearby village of Barkouitenga, where we were met by some of the mothers of the local primary school’s parents association. The first hour was spent on introductions from both associations and a lot of chatting amongst the women. Pieces of fabric were passed around in this time, each one individually and intricately tied. It was said that it takes the women 2 days to tie the fabric in this way.

Kabeela women inspecting the tied fabrics

Finally, after many pleasantries, we were ready to get down to business. Each piece of fabric was dunked in a tub of cold water, ensuring that it was completely soaked before the next step. In a separate tub, boiling water was poured in, along with several tablespoons of dye and fixing agent, resulting in a blue mixture. In minutes, the concoction had turned a deeper shade of blue, so we naturally assumed this would be the resultant colour of the dyed fabrics; but unknown to us they had actually used a green dye. The now soaked fabrics were dunked again, this time in the dye mixture, and were completely submerged for a few minutes each time; the women protecting their hands from the extreme temperatures with some very fetching red marigolds.

The fabric being submerged in the dye mixture - note the marigolds

When the women were sure every inch was covered, the fabrics were left out to dry in direct sun-light, where over time, we watched their true colours shining through.

Before drying 
...and after!

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