Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today I experienced African tie-dying.

On a small hill behind house five, Aunty Mariama was hard at work with a clan of other aunties and children helping her create the colorful masterpieces. The commotion attracted Scott and I and we stood watching the spectacle for a while – Aunty Mariama yelling instructions in Mende to her many helpers as the hot water hit the dye with only a few moments to soak the white garments. A fire had been built early in the day where a large pot of water sat heating for the next dying session. Aunty Mariama would choose her colored powder, mix it with the dye formula and then add the hot water. Hands covered in thick rubber gloves sloshed the bright colors over the white fabric, which will eventually become a bedspread or tablecloth. Instead of rubber bands, Aunty Mariama stitches her patterns into the fabric – which in the end, after several colors are used here and there on the cloth – make for a masterpiece design.

Scott confessed he had his major doubts when watching the process of dying – on the dirt ground, no rinsing the bowls after each color and the hustle of the crowd gathered into the process. But, we both were delighted when they pulled the stitches out of the first two projects and they were beautiful with a perfect pattern. Once the aunties were finished with each color, they let the children soak any shirts or clothing they wanted to dye with the leftover color.

We jumped at the chance to join in on the fun and brought back the only white things we own: our towels. We used rubber bands to make a design and though we tried to help, the kids and aunties kind of took over to make sure we got purple and yellow tie-died towels (we didn’t choose the colors, mind you). The perfect souvenir from a summer spent in Sierra Leone.

1 comment:

Walter said...

Hi Laura and Scott...I'm a world away, but your blog puts me right there. Just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you. (fyi...I survived the latest layoffs at your former work place, Laura. It's been a sad little time here in Sentinel Town.) Best regards to you both, Richard B.