script> Africa Moto: February 2015

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.
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