Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spinning and Weaving

A house in Safi wears a hat of wool - left to dry in the sun after being washed. 

For the first time at Safi crafts we showed off our traditional spinning skills - passed on from our mothers and grandmothers. A drop spindle- or more accurately a roll spindle - is rolled along the thigh after the wool is finger carded. 

We didn't get around to dyeing the wool except to quickly dip a small amount into red ochre. We are excited to experiment with more dyes in the near future.

The loom is set up on the ground using broken pieces of concrete, discarded iron rebar and twigs snapped of a nearby bush. Nothing in Safi is ever done alone so three pairs of hands are better than one. 

This is a mini version of the large traditional ground looms used to make warp faced rugs and the black goat hair tents still used as Bedouin homes. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Colours from the Earth

We've been digging ochre from the ground near Wadi Mujib on the shore of the Dead Sea. 

Sometimes it seems the rocks are sweating with color. Or maybe it was just the 45 degree (105 F) heat that made us think so. The crusty stuff is salt - stained with ochre.

Arwa strikes a pose in front of the setting sun. 

 After we dye the cotton we sew it into colorful market bags like this one. 

Tomorrow we are going to spin wool and experiment with the mud dyes. Usually protein fibres take dye much better than cellulose. We'll post the results.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some New Market Bags and a Quilt from a While Ago

These colourful market bags are made from our self portraits and lined with naturally dyed cotton.

And here's a new picture of a quilt we made based on some of the motifs found on mosaics at historic sites in Safi and other parts of Jordan. It is dyed with mud, painted with acrylic, embroidered and quilted.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And Now an Article About Us!

Friend of Safi Crafts and champion of the environment, Laurie Balbo, has written an article about us for Green Prophet. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Where to Buy Our Work

Here is a great article about the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth. written by our friend Laurie Balbo. She describes the wonderful archeological collection that we have right here in Safi. The women of Safi Crafts manage the gift shop. If you drop by you will probably meet Nofeh's nephew Ali.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting Ready for an Exhibition

We are getting ready for an art exhibition of our self portraits. It will be organized by Alaydi Craft Center and held at the Movenpik Dead Sea Hotel in May, no wait, autumn 2013.

We painted our self portraits in monochrome. 

 Noor with her self portrait. We're not always as serious as our paintings suggest!

We really love to work with color. Weesall begins to paint a portrait. 

Nofeh laughs and gets covered in paint and Nerriman, who we haven't seen for a while, drops by and paints with us.

Some of our paintings look more dynamic when combined with other portraits. We all have two sides - or many sides - to our personalities don't we.

Once the paintings are sewn together we stretch them on stretchers built by our local carpentry shop. Here the guys come to take measurements while Noor and Weesall use the staple gun.

Noor and Arwa make some striking portraits of Safi women.

We have breakfast after stretching some of the paintings. We think they look pretty good!

As well as self portraits we painted the vegetables that we grow on our farms here in the Jordan Valley. Ali came with us to collect samples.

Alia and Mirvit paint the vegetables while Aishe looks on and gives advice. 

These painting workshops were taught by our old friend and teacher Jean Bradbury who came from Seattle to work with us for two weeks.

We get support from Aramex Jordan who contributed two new sewing machines this year to the women's society. They also pay Jean's travel expenses. 

Beautiful Aishie says you should come by for tea some day. We would love to see you. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

What We Are Working On Now

At Safi Crafts we hand dye our fabrics using environmentally friendly dyes like mud from Petra.

The yellow dye is made from mud collected near Wadi Mujib where it flows into the Dead Sea. All of these colours are made from mud, tea, iron and pomegranate rind.

We add iron to darken or 'sadden' the dyes. It reacts with the tannin in tea and pomegranate to give us wonderful greys and greens.

Aishe is our master dyer. These are her hands squishing and rubbing the fabric in the dye vat.

As well as natural dyes we use artists paints. Here we are painting self portraits in oils at a workshop with Jean. She had to hide the small brushes to encourage us to paint more boldly - but someone kept finding them. It was a nutty and really fun day.

The results are bold! And we love them. 

Semiha and Alia design the bags by cutting up our paintings and reassembling the pieces.

The finished market bags are colorful and strangely wonderful. Also very useful! And there is nothing like them anywhere in the world. Each one is unique and from our hearts. 

Our market bags are fully lined with hand dyed cotton. This colour is made with mud from Petra.

The rich dark grey of the lining of this bag is made with an iron and pomegranate rind dye.

In this workshop we learn landscape painting and look at photographs of date palms on the computer.