for the Love of Textile Art
I always had a passion for textiles, and especially traditionally made textiles.
My African origins inspired a passion for African Textile Art and their fascinating symbolism. I wrote my Master memoir about African textiles and their communicative role in the African culture and society.
This passion for fabrics and textiles inspired me to create a clothing line using high quality, and traditional textiles, in order to highlight and promote textile handmade work and techniques. I believes they offer better value in terms of quality, sustainability and environment protection issues.
Therefore, I source eco-friendly, ethical, fair-trade, organic textiles from Africa & Europe. I source a majority of the fabrics I use from Africa, as I am determined to show that traditional African fabrics can find their use in modern fashion.
Through the Bolono Mali project founded by my mother, textile artist Kati Ertel, we create, produce and source textiles to support local artists and local development.
Traditional hand woven cotton from Mali, West Africa
The Finimugu is the traditional and ancestral fabric from Mali, West Africa.
It is traditionally made 100% natural Malian cotton.
The cotton fiber is picked and spun by hand, it is then woven on a traditional loom which is on average 30 cm widewhich will produce bands of fabrics. To create a wrap, bands are sewed together by hand.
The fabric is traditionally white (unbleashed) and reprsents purity and divine protection.
Traditional Mud Cloth from Mali
The Bogolan is the painted version of the Finimugu.
Bogolan means painted with mud. It is the most famous and representative traditional fabric from Mali. The Finimugu is hand painted with plants and mud, it is a long and quite complicated process, as it is painted by hand, each piece is unique, and has to be considered as a piece of Art. The Art of Bogolan is a very rich tradition using symbols and designs to create stories and talismans. The Bogolan in Mali is taking a very important place in the cultural and social life. It is well recognised all over the world as an Art on its own.
The Bogolan is 100% natural and eco friendly. The use of medicinale plants and mud as dyers gives also to the fabrics some healing & protection properties. This is a truly magical textile.
the modern Bogolan
The Nyangine is the modern version of the Finimugu as the cotton is industrially woven, it allows producing wider pieces of cloths then the Finimugu, traditionally woven on quite narrow looms. while the Finimugu is quite thick, the Nyangine is a very flexible and soft cotton cloth. It is then painted with mud and plants following the Bogolan tradition so it is a wonderful, eco-friendly and sustainable fabric which also has real healing properties.
African Traditional Natural Tie Dye
The Art of dyes
All over West Africa there is an amazing variety of creating stunning designs by tiying the fabric before soaking or painting the fabric with dye. The reserve created will reveal a unique design once untied.
Natural dyes were traditionally used till now. Indigo, one of Fée Uhssi's favourite is still very famous accross West Africa and the World. Kola nuts and other plants are also used to create amazing fabrics.
Modern African Tye Dye
Bursting with colours
Following the Tie Dye tradition, the art of tie dye has widely developed with the use of synthetic dyes allowing to access a wider range of colours. The dyes are applied most of the time on cotton brocade which has a natural shine and brings even more light to the bright colours.
the use of chemical dyes is unfortunately a big issue for the health of textile artists and the environment but it is a big part of the African textile activity. Fée Uhssi works with local artists through the Bolono Mali project to source those beautiful tie dye designs and support actions and campaigns to protect the makers and the earth.
When African Art inspired European textile industry
Wax prints are nowadays very popular all over the world and are often reffered to as African fabric, which is not the exact truth.
Originally, the wax resist dyed fabrics came from Indonesia and were exported to the Gold Coast and spread over West Africa into Central Africa by Europeans during colonisation. They became extremely popular, probably because the designs and symbols used were copied or inspired by traditional African symbols and designs which always had a great importance in the cultural, spiritual and social life. And over time the Africans customised and personalised the designs. Nowadays wax print are made locally in West Africa and have strong cultural, social and economical role. wax prints have been part of the emrgence of a new modern African Fashion.