"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I acknowledge, with deep respect, that I am gathered on Treaty 7 territory. I acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations. I respect the histories, languages and cultures all the Indigenous peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our community.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

West African Adinkra Printmaking

This is an West African printmaking project I did a few years ago with some Grade 6 students. 

from Pbs.org:
Adinkra (ah-DEEN-krah) cloth is a hand-printed fabric made in Ghana. Developed by the Ashanti people, Adinkra cloths were traditionally made for royalty to wear at religious ceremonies. Through the years, people have also decorated the cloths to tell a story or to express their thoughts or feelings.

Adinkra cloth is stamped and patterned with traditional Ashanti symbols. Each symbol has its own meaning. People in Ghana decorate the cloth by using a black dye made of bark. This dye is called Adinkera aduru, and it is what gives the cloth its name. Using the dye, they draw lines on the cloth to divide it into squares. Next, they carve symbols into calabash gourds, press the gourds into the dye, and stamp the symbols onto the fabric.

Image Source

Examples of adinkra symbols and their meanings.

Carving a stamp from a gourd or calabash...

A lovely collection of hand-carved gourd stamps

Printing onto the large cloth (which is sometimes stiched together from strips of fabric).

 So for this project, instead of having students carve their stamps (which I have done before with knives and potatoes, but it's tricky (with the knives) and the potato doesn't seem to last long enough to finish the project), we drew our designs onto flat kitchen sponge cloths (from the Dollar Store). I believe fun foam sheets would also work well.

I gave the students handouts of real symbols and their meanings for inspiration. 
Students came up with their own design and it had to symbolize something personal to them.

Cut out the design and glue it onto a square of thick cardboard.

Paint the sponge stamp with black tempera or acrylic paint and test it in a sketchbook or a scrap piece of paper. Students needed to figure out for themselves how much paint to apply and how best to apply pressure.

Voila!  A perfect stamp!

For our good copies, students simply printed on large white paper.  Of course, you could use real fabric. 

Ok, so students are stamping away, building up their design.  I asked for a symmetrical design but alot of students went crazy with their own patterns....

Next time I teach this, I will insist the patterns are symmetrical and much closer together. I think, perhaps, some students got bored and just started randomly printing just to fill the paper....it can be a tedious and repetetive process. Next time, I need to teach this to a older grade or use a smaller sheet of paper.

Once the printing was finished and dry, students added 'stitch' marks with oil pastels to create panels.
Ta da!


Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

This is a great art lesson
I love how you connect the history to the art project.

Kathy said...

this is brilliant all the photos are fantastic

Miss said...

Thanks! I plan on trying this project again soon with some more tweaks- hoping to get the patterns closer together and try a large group one as well.

Hoarder's Den said...

I think it's a great idea to use smaller squares, then each square can be "stitched" together for the overall effect. Students can make more than one if they want, as long as at least one is symmetrical as instructed, then they will see the difference the effect has when put together.

KidWorldCitizen.org said...

This is a fantastic project! I love it. I have a question for you- I write for kidworldcitizen (dot) org. We highlight multicultural art projects, recipes from around the world, children's literature, global games, etc. for teachers and parents to help their children learn about the world and it's cultures. I was wondering if I could highlight this art project? I already started to write an article about adinkra symbols and the fabric printing, and when I was researching I came across your site. I'd love to invite you to be a guest writer, or if you are too busy, I would like to show your project and properly credit you. Please let me know what you think: kidworldcitizen (at) gmail (dot) com.

Miss said...

Thanks Kid World Citizen! You can definitely re-post this lesson. I've sent you an email.

cheryl meehan said...

Wonderful! I'm going to do something like this with my 5th grade. thanks.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for sharing and educating us about African styles and traditional.I will like to contribute on empowering and finishing aspect this project with sewing machines.for the finishing thanks.

Miss said...

Thanks Cheryl and Anonymous :)

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