When most people think about paint, they either envision it as on a painted wall or on a fine painting mounted on a painted wall (i.e., as utilitarian or artistic). Of course this is a highly polarized and unrealistic view - as with many artistic media, paint has been applied to wide range of objects. This diversity exists throughout Africa, where paint is used both functionally and creatively to decorate textiles, so that people have the opportunity to wear painted art for day-to-day or special purposes.
Different methods are used to apply paint to textiles, including the most common : by brush. In some places like Zimbabwe, artisans use more inventive tools. A potato, for example, can be converted into a hand-stamp that the designer can use to print carved-out patterns onto cotton fabric. For people who have lived on the continent, this sort of resourcefulness is almost expected. Many tribes throughout the continent have mastered the skill of using what they have rather than depending on what they need to bring in.
Fabric artists are not dependent on the chemistry of dyeing methods or the sophistication of weaving processes; they are able to focus primarily on content, and their works are therefore generally more highly-detailed and, more often, pictorial.
Because painted and hand-printed fabrics can be found in so many locations around the continent, we regularly choose different representatives from different places to feature in our "Dry Season" and "Rainy Season collections.
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