Sunday, April 02, 2006

Word Bird

Boy oh boy, you all sure do get excited about the Tentmaker Applique. Guess I've gotten a bit jaded. I'll try to answer some of your questions.

The work starts with a piece of canvas which is a creme color. I've been reading too many cookbooks. Cream colored.

Almost all the rest of the work will be done with solid-colored cotton, which is fairly loosely woven. Some makers do use patterned calicos for very expat oriented work such as Santas and sometimes organza will be used for a watery effect over appliqued fishes. But for more traditional work it's solid cotton.

Depending on what final effect the maker wants, the initial canvas can be covered with a layer of colored cotton. That's the base. The applique is then worked onto that. There's no batting, but the work will be finished off with another layer of cotton on the back and a binding. It won't be tacked or quilted in any way.

One of the wallhangings I showed yesterday would run you about $125. Of course you'd have to pay the airfare to get here as well so it would end up costing a bit more than that :) Prices will vary according to how well it's made and how complicated the design is.

We have a couple of shops here selling Tentmaker Applique, one of which I showed you a pic of yesterday. The vast majority of the shops are located in downtown Islamic Cairo on Tentmaker Street, appropriately enough. I haven't made my way down there recently, not since September. I'll get down there one of these days, but the friend I usually go shopping with is out of town. I've been trying to work up the nerve to go all by myself, but haven't done it yet. I'm a little bit nervous about getting lost down there. It's not like the streets are signposted.

I don't have a lot of tentmaker work myself. I have the completely non-traditional Santa on a Camel and Santa on a Flamingo as well as the large piece that I commissioned in my favorite colors. I do however have this one:

I haven't shown you this type of applique before. I'm going to try and explain this and I may get it wrong. Figures aren't shown in Islamic art, that's why you see so much beautiful tile work in the Middle East. One way to work within this restriction is to show a figure that isn't really the figure. For example, the above piece looks like a bird, but it is made up of arabic letters. I can't remember exactly what it spells out (and it can be hard to decipher even for someone who knows arabic) but I'm sure it's something religious.

It's beautifully done, isn't it. This particular piece had a layer of white cotton placed over the canvas, since I dislike off-white. I'm so fussy, I know. I had to take the picture at this weird angle so that I didn't get the flash going off on the glass.


Finn said...

Morning Ton, thanks for the new tutorial...I love it! And what a beautiful bird figure. The curving lines are just stunning.

Thanks for sharing..and,oh yes, sending lots of "please play it safe and don't go alone to Tentmaker Street"?? OK? Finn

ForestJane said...

It'd be a challenge to do something like this bird using letters from English script... much less trying to make the script letters say something meaningful or profound!

It's lovely. :)

Lily said...

And again, the blue and white theme. See, you just HAD to buy that Palestinian pottery :)

It's gorgeous and I love how they 'get around' their iconographic restrictions!

cher said...

a beautiful piece...of course you had to have it too.

Dawn said...

I am so enjoying seeing all this art you see in Egypt. And it is all so interesting. In a way I would love to come expierience it - but in another I am a big chicken and would so out of my element! But if you make it to Paris I think I just have to make a trip there to see you and my friend! Which reminds me - I still owe you that email.....

Anonymous said...

This is quite beautiful! The tentmakers are amazing with their patterns.