Traditional Yoruba Batik, Adire and Tie-dye with Indigo
Gasali Adeymo, Instructor
October 2-6, 2017 (9am-4pm)
Material Fee: $25
Batik is the process of creating designs using wax. The name that we call batik in the Yoruba tribe is adire alabela, which means wax resist. The wax can be applied to the fabric using wood stamps, stencils, or foam rubber. In my culture we primarily use foam rubber to apply the design to the fabric free hand. I believe that batik is the way of creating so many beautiful colors. When I teach I always tell my students when you first start your batik process and you want many colors you should make sure you leave some space for the next color to be applied. Traditionally in Nigeria the dye used for batik fabrics is a dye called Jaman dye or Prosion dye, which are both colored dyes. However, indigo is currently the common dye used.
After the fabric has been dyed, the wax must be removed. When removing the wax from a piece that has been dyed the fabric should be almost dry so that the color has time to set. To remove the wax, the fabric must be put into a large pot of boiling water to which 3 or 4 tablespoons of a mild, bleach free detergent has been added. After the fabric gets immersed in the boiling water for a few minutes it then gets placed in a large pot of cold water and gently agitated to remove any remaining wax. The fabric is then hung out to dry.
Adire Eleko is the process of creating designs using cassava paste (also called yucca), a small broom, and a chicken feather. I teach the students how to prepare the paste, so they can do it themselves when they are home. There are two techniques in Adire, the first is to use a stencil, and the second is to create the patterns by hand. I show the students both methods. After the designs are created I then show the students how to prepare indigo and use it to dye their work. Finally, I show them the process to remove the cassava from their work.
Tie-Dye is the process of using raffia to tie fabric and then dying the fabric. There are a few different tie-dye techniques; the first is called stitch resist where the design is made using a needle to stitch the raffia into the fabric. The other method is done by hand using raffia to create designs. I teach the students both Tie-Dye techniques as well as how to dye the fabric and remove the raffia.
The primary dye I use in my workshops is Indigo. Indigo has been used as a dye in Africa for at least 2000 years. The Yoruba name for indigo is “elu”. Since the olden days indigo has been used for medicine as well as a dye; it cures an upset stomach. Indigo is also used to ward off viruses; houses are painted with indigo to prevent the sickness from entering.
Indigo is an organic substance, it comes from the indigo plant which grows wild in Nigeria. During the beginning of the rainy season the leaves are harvested and then dried. After they have dried they are formed into little balls which are then used to prepare the dye.