Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From the Collection: Trendsetters 'R' Us!

Kuba cloth: woven, dyed raffia,
appliqued onto more woven, dyed raffia
purchased on Ouagadougou
The Roommate & I don't really consider ourselves trendsetters, but I have to share with you some of the items from the latest West Elm catalog, which is about South Africa.  However, much of what they're showing is from Central Africa (specifically the Congo, Zaire region), and some of it's Masai, which is Kenya (or East Africa).  

These places are thousands of miles apart, and the tribes are even further apart in terms of language!  But I guess expecting corporate America to know about geography is expecting too much?

From the catalog:
Batiked kuba!  v. cool
In the West Elm catalog, they've used kuba cloth extensively and a little bit of raffia velvet (as decoration).  But that's not fair! We knew about it first...when we went to West Africa in 2006, it was on our list of textiles to bring back.  

One thing I will give them, though, is they found batik kuba...which we looked for, but never found on our trip. 

So here are a few things from our collection & some West Elm items.  

This first is using some skirts of raffia velvet on a bookcase--sort of like doilies!? I see these in shops pretty regularly (mostly in the $75-150 range), so we don't keep ours out where Kitty Cat can get to them, nor do we set anything on them; instead they are displayed as if in a museum...
From the catalog:
Bad photo--apologies; raffia velvet used as giant coasters?
If you'd like to know more about the highly graphic artwork the Kuba & Shoowa peoples create with raffia (not exactly a supple, easy material to work with!), check out the (previously mentioned) Weaving Abstraction exhibit which was at the Textile Museum in DC in 2011.  

A skirt of raffia velvet;
purchased in Ouagadougou
From the catalog

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