Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Textile Love: Malian Mudcloth

Traditional mudcloth, or bogolanfini, is currently trending in home design, and its with good reason too. It’s abstract, geometric and timeless designs mix perfectly with modern furnishings. It is also ethical and authentically African. When we lived in Mali I fell in love with the local traditional handmade textiles, and have since incorporated them into our home.

While I was there I worked with artisans to create clothing and kids nursery decor from handmade cotton fabrics and dyes. You can see some of my mudcloth designs from my “Cotton du Mali” collection here. I haven’t had a chance to go back to Mali yet, but my lucky husband gets to travel there regularly. 

How Mud Cloth Is Made
Making naturally dyed traditional bogolan is a time consuming process. First, the cloth is handwoven by Bamana men into thin strips of cloth on a hand loom. The strips of cotton are then sewn together. The cloth is the dyed by Bamana women with the fermented mud, clay and tree leaves. The whole cloth is first dyed yellow. It is then painted by mud from the local rivers to create the darker areas, and then a caustic solution is used to "discharge" the dye from the lighter areas. The result is bold geometric patterns.

Each of the the geometric patterns of mudcloth  are symbolic and also tell a story. No two pieces of mud cloth are exactly the same.  In traditional Bamana culture, bògòlanfini is worn by hunters, serving as camouflage, as ritual protection and as a badge of status.Women are wrapped in bògòlanfini after their initiation into adulthood and immediately after childbirth.The geometric designs that are created are often stylized forms of animals or other objects from the natural world.

Mud Cloth in Interior Design
Here is some inspiration for incorporating mud cloth into your home. I have a small collection of mudcloth wrappers in my fabric collection. I plan to use some of it to reupholster a chair and make a few mudcloth throw pillows. So keep your eyes open for that!

Urban Renewal Mudcloth Chair via Urban Outfitters

Throw Pillow via Camel and Grey

Bogolan Wrapper via Met Museum

Reupholstered Chair via Need Supply

Draped Bookshelf via Architectural Digest

Mudcloth Draped over Couch via Kirana Perera

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Destination Guide:Things to Do in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe

5 Reasons to Go

  • Enjoy the natural beauty of Malilangwe Forest Reserve
  • Encounter elephants at Gonarezhou National Park
  • Glamp at Singita Pamushana
  • Safari at Chilo Gorge
  • Relax at the Palm Tree Place
Guest writer Gugulethu Nyazema takes us off the beaten path to discover the natural beauty of Chiredzi in southeastern Zimbabwe. Come along and discover why the New York Times included Zimbabwe on its list of 52 Places to Go to In 2015.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Destination Guide to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Are you daydreaming about escaping the cold winter weather for warmer climates? Sure you are.

Then put the majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on the top of your getaway list. I shared the highlights of my family's road trip to the falls here. Victoria Falls is at the top of my mind right now as I am planning my family's summer vacation. Did I mention that I'm going home {Zimbabwe} this summer!

The Victoria Falls known locally as Mosi-Oa-Tunya which means "the smoke that thunders". Boy does it thunder especially during the rainy season. This amazing geographic sight is located on the Zambezi river, straddling the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and the world's largest stretch of uninterrupted falling water.

“Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight” said David Livingstone when he first saw the falls. The beauty of the Falls have since captivated many more visitors. Victoria Falls is actually made up of a series of waterfalls, four of which are on the Zimbabwe side (Devils’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and Horseshoe Falls) and one on the Zambia side (The Eastern Cataract).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Art: Mali before the coup

I was in Cincinnati, Ohio recently for my  husband's cousin's wedding. It was a great family reunion and such a beautiful wedding. The post wedding brunch was at the 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Cincinnati. For anyone planning a wedding in Cincinnati, I highly recommend it. The food was great and so was the artwork.   I was looking at some pictures from Malian photographer Malick Sidibe exhibited at the museum and was transported back to Mali before the coup.  I was reminded of the Recontres de Bamako , the biennial photography festival of African artists that ran from November 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012. The theme of the exhibition was "Pour un monde durable" (for a sustainable world). Here are some of the pictures I took from the exhibit at the Musee National. I've posted mainly the pictures of the archived black and white photos of Malian culture in the 1960s and the mosque architecture of Djenne and Timbuktu.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inspired by....Baobab

I love the baobab tree (the tree of life), it has amazing fruit. The fruit is more super than a lot of superfoods with much more antioxidants than goji berries and acai. Growing up in Zimbabwe, I'd be all covered in the white powder from eating the yummy baobab fruit (mawuyu in Shona). In Bamako I loved to buy the baobab snacks from my local gas station. That was probably the best stocked shop around town. When I came across two companies, Bumbleroot and Aduna, that were launching baobab foods with great branding I was excited. Both brands source their baobab sustainably in Africa, with positive impact on the local communities. Bumbleroot sources from Zimbabwe and Aduna from Gambia and Senegal.

 {Photo credit: Bumbleroot and Aduna}

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