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… as I have already said, the last months have been a blur of building, plastering, painting, moving (into a building site), unpacking, DIY, cleaning, endless cleaning, new job, travel and visitors… I am not complaining, and I won’t apologise for having neglected this part of my world, but it is time to get creative again, and to share a few of my projects…

… a couple of weeks ago I was in Ghana for work, I spent most of the week being driven from hotel to meetings, to hotel, to dinner, to hotel… I really wanted to slip out from behind the walls of our oasis of comfort, into the streets, to get lost in the lanes, to browse all the roadside stalls, to watch craftsman weaving wicker sofas, to buy peanuts from old ladies, and of course to find fabric…

… I didn’t get a chance… until the final day. Meetings were over at lunch time, our flight was late evening. With a colleague we got driven to a handicraft market, full of sculptures, masks and clothes for tourists, priced for tourists… I barely looked at the fabric stalls. My colleague was looking for antiques, knew what he wanted, where he wanted to go, I followed… I did pick up a couple of beautiful Tuareg bowls…

ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp … I had spent the week admiring the skills of the local seamstresses, scrutinising the colourful dresses around me, looking at what the local ladies wore to meetings, loving the dresses of the hotel staff. One day one of the people we were meeting joined us in the most incredible dress, with a bold geometric pattern around the bottom of the dress, large spider’s webs around her hips, the geometric pattern repeated on the bodice, and the neckline was cut out along the lines of the spider web. If the meeting had been going more smoothly I would have asked her for a photo.

… before leaving the hotel to go to the craft market I had asked the receptionist for hints on where to find fabric, she scribbled the names of the top brands to look for –  woodin, GTP, high target – on a piece of paper and she wrote down the name of a market where I could find them.

… after doing the tourist bit I showed the driver my piece of paper and he took us to Makola market. Finally we were away from the tourists, in a local shopping district. There were several shops selling fabric, we stopped at one, and then the toughest decisions of the week had to be made…

ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp… the fabric was piled from floor to ceiling, endless piles of bright and beautiful designs, a few designs were hanging on display racks, one kept catching my eye, but I kept looking at others. The sales assistant directed me to the Ghanaian designs, showed me baskets of 2 yards and 3 yards, lengths of fabric cut, and either sold on their own, or as kits – 2 yards of pattern, 1 yard of matching solid, carefully folded into concertinas.

… finally I decided on 4 yards of an orange Ghanaian design and bought 2 yards of the first fabric I had fallen for with its wonderful fish-like design – I had no idea what a yard was (metric girl here!), but it seemed like it would be enough for most projects I was likely to use it for!

ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp… we also managed to visit the Global Mamas shop one afternoon. This is a cooperative, helping women earn a living from sewing, jewellery and shea butter products. While I wasn’t overly inspired by the sewn items, I bought a selection of shea butter soap and cream for gifts, including a special soap for the dog…

ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp… back home and I decided that I wanted to add a little something to the bars of soap I had brought back, make the gifts a little more special, so I cut a width of my new fabric, cut it into 4, and sewed it up into draw string bags. My parents were visiting that weekend, while I sewed, my mother trimmed lose threads and turned the bags right side out, we had a real production line going…

… 4 bags sewn up in an hour or so…

ghanaian gifts @ grt*escp

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