Batiking in Ghana 2

The next morning after a squished hour ride on a trotro (beat up minivan-the main public transport) and after a prolonged search we finally found the workshop-a concrete block, dirt floor, open air structure in a residential area. Lots of friendly neighbors, curious kids, goats, chickens, a few pigs and sounds of a raucous church choir practicing next door formed the backdrop.

Mercy’s son, Daniel Tekfor Baflo, welcomed us and showed us around.

Dan in shop

Dan in shop

It became clear that because Mercy had actually stopped batiking 20 years ago, Dan was the artist behind the work produced. He’s 34, went to art school for graphic design over 10 years ago and works here 7 days a week. Yet he gets no personal credit for his textiles. This was one of many moments of I ran into  of (to me) mysterious cultural rules of loyalty and obligation. Dan is not happy with the situation but feels he has few choices.

OK back to the workshop…
At one end were the large plastic dye pots.

dye pots

dye pots

And at the other end was the work table, the wax pot…

wax pot

wax pot

…and overflowing shelves holding dozens of beautiful intricately carved thick foam stamps! The designs ranged from traditional  to bold free-flowing contemporary.

blocks on shelf

blocks on shelf

Clearly THESE were part of the secret behind the uniqueness of the fabric Dan produces here. Dan draws freehand on the foam and carves each design with a razor blade. The additional step that distinquishes his work is his technique of overstamping with these blocks. That results in the filagreed, richly layered surfaces I fell in love with.

I had to choose 2 blocks. Well that took a while! But I settled on block 1:



…and block 2:

block 2

block 2

Dan then filled an oil drum outside with water from an old nearby bathtub and built a fire.

water into the drum

water into the drum

Next step-stamping the wax…To be continued!



4 Responses to “Batiking in Ghana 2”

  1. Linda elder Says:

    This is so intriguing. I appreciate the tour and the wonderful talent you have discovered. Amazing humility and incredible work with such simplicity.

  2. Michael Dooley Says:

    Dan looks so happy- we have so much in America, so many tools, resources and expectations. Why don’t we have the same laughter, smile and happiness as portrayed here. The environment might look dimmer, but the work looks so bright.

    -Michael Dooley

    • karenkamenetzky Says:

      Yes, I was constantly struck by the same contradictions! Despite the widespread lack of economic resources the fabric of community and family seemed so strong. The kids knew exactly where they belonged and were at peace with that.
      Thank you, Michael for your insightful comment.

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