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Workshop on Making Ghanaian Cloth Draws Students of All Majors

May 4, 2004

Carls in the Boliou Hall printmaking studio rolled up their sleeves at workshop in making traditional Ghanaian cloth. The workshop was presented by Dr. Richmond Teye Ackam, an art professor from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

The cloth is made by printing traditional motifs onto cloth with a red-brown dye called Adinkra Duro, made from the bark of the Badie Tree. Traditionally used in funeral services, Ackam has widened the use of the Adinkra Duro by experimenting with designs and techniques associated with it.

In his second trip to Carleton in two years, Ackam invited students to learn how to print Adinkra Duro at the two-hour workshop. Arriving from Ghana with dried Badie bark, stamps and blocks made from calabash and cloth for printing, he demonstrated several styles and offered pointers before inviting students to begin.

As Carls prepared to print, Ackam imparted the helpful wisdom: “Though what you make might seem messy, know that it is actually beautiful.” Participants worked diligently, becoming familiar with the challenges of using the new medium.

Danielle Bart, a senior from Trinidad and Tobago, commented, “I’ve seen clothing with African designs on them, but I’ve never really seen how the fabric is made.” Students began to engage in their own experimentation, printing with hands, painting designs and combining stamps to create new effects.

Sophomore Marley Glassroth was excited to work with Ackam, explaining, “I’m working on an independent study in fabric printing, so this was a perfect opportunity to see the many ways it can be done.”

Written by Scott Vignos '06