Yoruba Adire, Tie-Dye & Batik with Gasali Adeyemo 2008.10.06-10

Gasali Onireke Adeyemo, born in Ofatedo in Osun State Nigeria, studied for two years at the Nike Centre for Arts and Culture the traditional Yoruba techniques of Adire and Tie-Dye, along with batik painting on fabric, indigo dyeing, quilt making, embroidery, appliqué and batik painting on rice paper.

Gasali then spent another four years at the Nike Centre passing on his learned skills to incoming students.

I was fortunate to be a student for a week of this quiet and unassuming man who thouroughly enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the several traditional Yoruba techniques covered over five days.

Yoruba Adire Sampler

We dabbled in Adire, the process of creating designs with cassava (yucca) paste, a small broom and a chicken feather.  Cassava can be applied by stencil or by hand.  After drying, the piece is dipped in Indigo or dye and the cassava paste is removed leaving a resist pattern.

Yoruba Tie-Dye Sampler

There are two different techniques in the process of Tie-Dye using raffia.  Stitch resist is when raffia is sewn with a needle into fabric to create design.  The second process uses raffia and sometimes assorted seeds or other small items to tie designs into fabric by hand.  Once the designs have been created, the fabric is dyed and dried before the raffia is taken out to show off the resist patterns.  My ‘Alakete’ spiral design, also know as ‘Fila” hat design, mysteriously disappeared in the dye process.  Lesson learned: make sure to take the time to identify once piece(s) before throwing into the communal dye pot.

Yoruba Batik – Adire Type Design Sampler

Adire alabela, meaning wax resist, is the Yoruba tribe’s version of batik.  Using wood stamps, stencils, or foam rubber either beeswax or paraffin wax is applied to the fabric.  The fabric is then dyed and the process is repeated with the next colour, or not.  I found using the foam rubber quite versatile and freeing.

In the course we used paraffin wax and then boiled out the wax in hot water.

We had a choice of several dye colours or using a natural Indigo vat.  In all three pieces I started off with white.  With the flowers I then dyed the whole piece fuschia and overdyed blue at the top and red at the bottom.  The green piece was overdyed with blue to get a darker green.

Yoruba Batik Garden

Yoruba Batik Ocean

I enjoyed this course immensely.

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