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 Post subject: Textiles - Ghana
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:30 am
Posts: 315
Inspired by the diversification in Monique's posting of Portuguese costume here is a Ghanain Kente ceremonial piece representative of the Ashanti people. I have collected a number of these pieces over the years and have always been struck by their incredible radiant blue.
This particular piece is formed from 12 handwoven bands which have been handstitched together to form the ceremonial whole cloth. The pattern is used here is the 'Obi Nkye Obi Kwa Mu' which may be loosely translated as "sooner or later one could stray into another person's path." This proverb indicates that no-one is perfect and as everyone makes mistakes it is important to learn forgiveness.
An excellent resource on Ashanti textiles is "African Majesty: Textiles of the Ashanti and Ewe" by Peter Adler and Nicholas Barnard.


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 Post subject: Female wrap
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:54 am 
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I should add that this piece is for a woman being comprised of just 12 bands. Cloth made for men is usually made from between 20-27 strips whilst that made for women 12-15 bands.


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 Post subject: female wrap
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Iain, What a fantastic textile to brighten up the new year! The colors are electric! Are they natural or chemical? What technique was used to produce the patterns? Your photos are also fantastic+ so clear, even the close-up. I am struggling with the digital age and having trouble getting and posting good photos of my textiles. Would you mind if I asked how you get such great photos?

What kind of camera do you use? Were these photos taken indoors with artificial light? How far away from the cloth were you and was the cloth on a wall or on the floor? There doesn't seem to be any distortion.

The photos I have posted so far were taken by a friend who is a professional camera man although he doesn't take photos of textiles in his work. He has to be 7 meters away from a large textile like a pua to get the whole piece in. When I suggested he use a wide angle lens he said it would distort the textile and although this could be corrected on the computer that is far beyond the ability of a beginner like me.

The first photo I posted (see Lao ikat skirt) was taken by a friend with the camera on her cell phone. The textile was on a sheet outside on my deck and she held the phone, camera, about 1meter above the cloth and got a photo of the cloth, the sheet and half of the deck! I had to trim 2/3ds of the photo off and reduce the size from 2.3MBs down to below the limit of 500KBs to be able to post it. Still, I thought the photo came out very well. The colors were true to the cloth and there didn't seem to be any distortion.

I want to take great photos like yours and any advice you could give would be very helpful and greatly appreciated! Sorry about changing the subject but I was just amazed by your great photos as well as your beautiful textile.

I collect mostly ikat textiles and am under the impression that there are not many of these produced in Africa. Could you tell us anything about ikat textiles produced anywhere in Africa? I know that lovely ikat textiles were produced on Madagascar but it seems these are no longer being made.

Thanks again for sharing your textile with us. It is a 3sec. round one knockout!!! Best Regards and a happy tiger new year! MAC


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:29 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Iain

I am very pleased to see the introduction of Kente textiles to the forum and your post elsewhere of a useful reference. I am always pleased to see the information and expertise widen on the forum from out Asian focus. Thank you for your considered and helpful comments on the textiles.

MAC
In haste re your photo questions.

Generally the better quality image you can take directly, before editing, the better it will reproduce.

With large textiles the major problem is getting it all in and avoiding convering verticals. You will see that on many textile photos on the forum. You want to get your lens focused on the centre of the textile and have the lens parallel with the surface of the textile. If you are hanging it up then the best is to have a pair of steps and climb up so you are holding the camera (and lens) dirctly centre and upright as the textile is upright. I used to live in an old mansion flat in London and my father made me some metal hangers to put a rod through which hung over my first (UK, 2nd American) floor balcony. I then dashed downstairs with my steps which I climbed up to take the photo. I was taking quilts in those days so wanted side light to show up the quilting and the best time was first thing in the morning, preferrably Sunday, when there were fewer people around to think who was that mad female up a pair of steps with her camera! It worked pretty well.

Something I have found re cameras and textiles is that I also need one with a good close-up facility for taking details. In general I use compact cameras not big SLRs because I want to be able to take my camera easily around with me. I have a Pentax Optio 555 - a few years old now. This is a digital zoom, 5x, and has a very good close-up for detail. I still use this although I have a later Panasonic DMC-TZ3, 10x zoom. This is better for lots of things but, unfortunately NOT for detail and close-up as it does not allow such a close-up image.

When you are looking for your camera make sure you check what is the closest the camera will take good pics. It really does matter. I usually go for the big zoom distance because of wanting to take people action shots but the close-up is key to static taking textiles shots.

sorry, must dash now. Have a look at some of the comments on http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... php?t=1099 re slant boards. This conversation re photographing should be on this section of the forum not general. When I have time I am going to have to do some copying and moving around.

best,

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
Posts: 155
Location: Beijing
Good to see some variety here, and the colors are lovely.

This gives me an excuse to post a cloth I picked up in the spring last year. You might be forgiven for wondering what a carpet dealer who lives in China and who has never been to Africa is doing with an African cloth. The answer is that I found it in the far northwest of China in Xinjiang, spotted it lying on the floor of a carpet dealer who hails from Yarkand. He swore that it was a special kind of man's blanket that comes from Yarkand. He was right about the man's wrap I think but about 8000km adrift as far as the location is concerned. I didn't argue since he had a fierce looking beard and the price was modest anyway.

My best guess is that this arrived in China with an African exchange student, perhaps in the 1960s or 70s when many African students studied in Chinese universities. We also occasionally see old African political posters from this era here ("SWAPO is the people, the people is SWAPO" etc).

There are 21 narrow sections joined together, which I learned from the notes above means that it's a man's wrap. Plain flatweave sections alternate with squares decorated with warp-faced designs. Most of these embroidered squares are abstract, but a few of them are embroidered with birds.


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 Post subject: African Ikat
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:47 am 
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Posts: 315
The two areas where ikat is employed are in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast by the Yoruba and Baule respectively. Duncan Clarke's fascinating website gives many introductory details and may be found here:
http://adireafricantextiles.blogspot.com/search/label/Yoruba
http://adireafricantextiles.blogspot.com/search/label/Baule

This link will take you to 175 images of his Asante kente cloth collection
http://picasaweb.google.com/AdireAfricanTextiles/AsanteKenteArchive#

This link will take you to an article discussing Asante cloth construction:
http://adireafricantextiles.blogspot.com/search/label/Asante

This link to images of his Ewe cloth archive:
http://picasaweb.google.com/AdireAfricanTextiles/EweClothsArchive#


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:30 am
Posts: 315
Wow from a while back .... Ikat examples are also found amongst the Dyula speaking people located across Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali. The spelling of group has also been rendered Dioula, Diula, Djula, Dyoula and Jùla and, just for clarity, NOT to be confused with Diola (Jola)speaking groups found in Guinea Bassau, The Gambia and Senegal :shock:
Thanks to MultiTree Digitial Library of Language Relationships for that last nugget :wink:


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 Post subject: cameras
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 7:35 pm
Posts: 175
Location: east coast
Greetings all - This is in response to the photography issues trying to get an entire large piece in one shot and still preserving detail.

I have my textiles shot for publication by a photographer who does work for museums and such. When he shoots a large piece - like 10' x 5' - he puts it flat on the floor and gets above it. Then he shoots it in several smaller overlapping shots. Maybe 6 for a large piece. Then he puts them into the professional version of Adobe Photoshop which magically "stitches" them together flawlessly. Don't ask me how. He says that is how much of the work is done now especially for large rectangular images and images they cannot back far enough away for a single shot.

This works especially well because each of the small piece shots can be closeups to some extent so he preserves detail.

Wonders of the computer ages.

I'm enjoying the postings and discussions.

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John


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:33 am 
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Location: Japan
John, Interesting! Could you tell us more about how he gets above the textile? Is this in a studio with lighting and some kind of special scaffolding? At home it is difficult to get directly above a textile, especially a large one. Thanks for the info. MAC


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 Post subject: photography
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:18 am 
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Posts: 93
I once had a friend whose studio was in an old church. To photograph large textiles, he lay them on the floor and then climbed up to the balcony with his camera and shot them from up there. Nice -- if you have a church, but I never have, even though they are apparently going for rather little money these days.

At the Tropenmuseum, I was rather taken with their technique. The had large rolls of flannelette fabric. One roll was white and the other was black. These were scrolled down the wall - white or black depending on the textile and which background would work best. Then the textile that needed to be photographed was smoothed flat against the backdrop. Believe it or not, it "sticks" like felt against felt. For the heavier textiles, we added a strategic pin or two. Usually it took two people to do the 'sticking' because otherwise the textile just kept peeling off the backdrop. We used a brush and comb to straighten out the fringes and 'stuck' them to the backdrop as well. Most textiles stuck reasonably well. The occasional textile wouldn't stick well enough, but then we used more pins.
The nice part about this technique was that you could flatten the textile nicely, taking out air bubbles by stroking from the middle to the edges. Depending on how you stroked, you could even straighten some crooked textiles to a certain extent, making them look better in the photo.
The advantage of this strategy is that you can have your camera set up on a tripod and hooked up to the computer. Your lights can be set up more or less permanently and then is no leaning over balconies etc. dangerously to see through the lens or view finder.
The technique is fast, efficient -- and fun -- because you're working with another person. I enjoyed working with Irene de Groot at the Tropenmuseum. I have worked with many photographers but I found that her system was the best. The hourly rate was not too onerous because we were able to accomplish alot more in an hour than when using other techniques.

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Sandra Niessen

www.bataktextiles.com
http://bataktextiles.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject: further to photographing
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:02 am 
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Posts: 315
Mac - apologies I see that I did not answer your question directly from way back. The dyes used on this textile are not natural/vegetal dyes. The material is a combination of woven silk, rayon and cotton thread.

Re the photo (actually not so good as it does not have the textile completely straight and it slipped on the edges!) It was taken in a studio by placing the textile on a slightly slanted frame placed on the floor draped with one of the studio black backdrops. It then saw me climbing an 8ft ladder to get to my camera which was on top of a seriously complicated wheeled camera stand hence the lack of vertical distortion. I think I used a SLR Canon 300 for this one not sure. Light sources were placed front (floor level), both sides (at about 4ft from ground and an overhead light directed downward at the top of the textile. I chose to use a black backdrop as it contrasted the yellows well and enabled the dark blues and reds to stand out. Due to studio space and time photos of this piece would benefit from being redone using many of the excellent suggestions given by others previous postings.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:48 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 7:35 pm
Posts: 175
Location: east coast
MAC wrote:
John, Interesting! Could you tell us more about how he gets above the textile? Is this in a studio with lighting and some kind of special scaffolding? At home it is difficult to get directly above a textile, especially a large one. Thanks for the info. MAC



Mac - it's pretty primitive how he gets above the textile. He has his own studio where he can do this but my pieces are shot in the carriage house in back of my old victorian house. It has a large 2nd story loft with rafters spaced about 6 ft. apart and about 8' above the floor. We put up some wide boards across the rafters and he climbs up there and shoots down.
He brings his own professional lights, power supplies for them, etc.
He earns his money although he does not charge that much per shot.

We also use the "slant board" technique for pieces such as skirts and pua' which are less than 4' x 8' which is the largest single stiff board we can buy. The board is also covered with a black fabic and we "stick" and/or pin pieces to that making them look as good as possible. He has an interesting angle-indicating "app" on his cell phone. He places his phone against the slant board, notes the angle, then places it against his camera lens and adjusts the camera angle to match.

He brings his computer so we can see all the shots as he makes them including the Adobe "stitched" ones which take a few minutes to do although he does some final "finessing" back at his studio such as dropping out the background, etc.

_________________
John


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:20 am 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Thanks to everyone for their interesting replies. Best regards, MAC


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