Friday, August 31, 2012

Mud Cloth or Bogolanfini/Mali, West Africa

We started this project by taking a look at the Bamana tribe of Mali, West Africa and their stunning textiles called bogolanfini or mud cloth.
The process of making this textile is incredibly complex beginning with the growing of their own cotton and also the gathering of mud which is left in jars to ferment for about one year before use. If you want to learn more about this intricate process and some of the symbolism found within the different shapes and patterns, just google "bogolanfini" and read up on it. It's impressive!

For this project we used brown craft paper and tempera paint to make our own imitations of mud cloth. Some of the students folded their paper 4 times to get 16 squares to use as a guideline for their designs. I allowed my students to either come up with their own pattern or to replicate one found online. The results were very satisfying for all, and the students thoroughly enjoyed working with a limited palette of black, white, shades of brown, and even some ochre. My older students worked in groups to create larger sized mud cloths.

Creating our mud cloths was a great way to slip in some math and spatial reasoning skills, social studies, and multicultural awareness. But if you're an art teacher, you know that almost every art project has great potential for this and so much more!