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Exploring the artistic textiles of Africa.

For creative projects that tie in well with Black History Month, check out The Underground Railroad for Kids: From Slavery to Freedom--with 21 Activities, written by Mary Kay Carson, published by Chicago Review Press and distributed by Independent Publishers Group, http://www.ipgbook.com.

Here's a sample activity worth trying.

Print Adinkra Cloth

Most enslaved Africans in America came from West Africa. Many were Ashantis (ah-SHAHN-tees), people who lived in the area of Africa that is now known as Ghana. Adinkra (ah-DEEN-krah) cloth is a kind of hand-decorated fabric that is traditional to the Ashanti people. Adinkra cloth is covered with hand-stamped symbols. The stamps are carved from chunks of gourd. You can make an Adinkra-style bandana or T-shirt that celebrates the culture of the ancestors of American slaves.

You'll need: newspaper; solid-colored T-shirt or bandana; fabric pen or permanent marker; a ruler: chunks of raw gourd, pumpkin or potato: a small knife; fabric paint of various colors; and dishes for paints.

1. Spread some newspaper on a table. Lay out the shirt or bandana you're going to decorate.

2. Use the fabric pen and the ruler to draw a grid of lines on the cloth.

3. Make stamps by carving symbols out of the chunks of gourd with a knife. You can copy some traditional West African symbols you find on the Web, or invent your own.

4. Pour some of each color of fabric paint into separate dishes. (If they are too thick, follow the paint's instructions for thinning.)

5. Dip your stamps into the paints and stamp them onto the cloth inside the empty grid squares. (Helpful tip: Try your stamps on paper first to make sure you like the design, and to get a feel for how much paint you should have on your stamp.)

6. Let your Adinkra cloth dry. Make sure to follow the fabric paint's instructions for washing the painted cloth.

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Title Annotation:Grades 3-6
Publication:Curriculum Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:318
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