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
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.
And at the other end was the work table, the 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
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:
Dan then filled an oil drum outside with water from an old nearby bathtub and built a fire.
water into the drum
Next step-stamping the wax…To be continued!