Textile Explanations

 
ASO OKE CLOTH
(Pronounced ah-SHAW-okay) is woven by the Yoruba people (often men) from Nigeria. Aso oke cloth is usually made of cotton or wild silk and can be beige, deep red or dark blue. The most defining characteristic of aso oke are the tiny rows of holes on each strip that are connected by a warp thread down the length of the fabric. Aso oke actually refers to a Yoruba woman's outfit which is made up of three to four parts: a blouse, a skirt, a head wrap and a shawl. 

BORO
Literally translates to "rags" or "scraps of cloth", Boro refers to Japan's cotton textiles that have been mended and patched over time. Boro textiles emerged out of necessity. Cotton arrived late in Japan and was often in short supply. Peasants and artisans would thus preserve every scrap of cotton and slowly patch their garments and household textiles as needed. The end result is an intricate yet unplanned one-of-a-kind folk textile.

IKAT
Characterized by the fact that its threads are dyed using a binding process before the fabric is woven together. Small bundles of thread are tied together in intricate patterns and then dyed, with the thread acting as a resist. Once the bundles have been dyed they are untied and put onto either the warp or weft of a loom (or both) and woven together. Although ikat is a Malay word and is generally associated with Indonesia and Malaysia, ikat textiles are also found in Africa, South America and Asia. 

INDIGO
Natural indigo dye comes from the indigo plant and is one of the oldest natural dyes used on textiles. To make indigo dye the plant's leaves are steeped in a wood ash lye mixture in large vats that are then covered and put into the ground. Our Japanese and African indigo is all vintage (any exceptions will be noted) and dyed naturally using traditional methods.
KATAZOME
Katazome is a Japanese method of resist paste dyeing through a stencil or katagami. With this kind of resist dyeing, a rice flour paste is applied. After the rice paste has dried the fabric is dyed. Where the paste  covers and permeates the cloth, dye applied later will not penetrate.

KUBA CLOTH
Woven by the Kuba people of southern Congo, Kuba cloth is made from the fibers of the raphia palm. Raphia is one of the most important indigenous fibers in Central Africa and has a grassy quality to it before it is put out in the sun to dry. Typically, the Kuba weave raphia fibers into overskirts, aprons, mats and purses.

MUD CLOTH
Bogolanfini comes from Mali and is made by the Bamana women. Typically, mud cloth is characterized by white geometric patterns on a black background. The background color can vary, however, and is achieved by soaking stripwoven cotton in the mulch leaves from various local trees. After some soaking, the tannin from the mulch dyes the cotton a deep yellow. Then, various geometric designs are outlined on the fabric with river mud, and all other parts of the fabric are carefully covered up with this iron salt rich mud. Finally, the mud is washed off of the fabric and the outlined yellow patterns are bleached white using a combination of millet bran, peanuts and caustic soda. 
Traditionally, mud cloth was worn by hunters, pregnant women, or any person in danger of loosing blood. Mud cloth is regarded as protective, warding off evil sprits who are confused by the intricate patterns of the fabric. 

SHIBORI
Japanese word for creating a pattern on fabric by shaping it and securing it before dyeing. There is actually no English equivalent for shibori, which encompasses numerous resist dyeing techniques including folding, twisting, stitching, binding and knotting. Shibori is often characterized by its soft and slightly blurry edges and an element of the unexpected is always present. In the West people often compare shibori to "tie-dye", although tie-dye only covers a few of the techniques that shibori describes. 

STRIPWEAVES
Almost all of the African fabric we have is made of stripwoven cotton. Stripweaves are found throughout the world and are made when strips of fabric are sewn together, selvedge to selvedge. In certain parts of Africa a very narrow backstrap loom is used to weave an extremely long strip of fabric. This is then cut down into individual pieces and each piece is hand sewn together. Many of our indigo throws are made in this way.