For Christmas, Erin gave me these beautiful stamps from Ghana. They look like cookies except for the handles on the back. Carved from the calabash root, the icon design is applied in a traditional textile printing technique called Adinkra, another one of those unique arts quickly disappearing in its traditional practice.
Before I even researched where they came from, I tried the stamps out on a commercial kitchen/waitstaff apron from the kitchen store- one that works nicely as a craft apron with 3 pockets and a strong tie. The stamp patterns interlock to make a larger textile design which is a little tricky for a novice, but I think that unmatched imperfection is always excused as part of the charm. I used acrylic craft paint (with textile medium added) and a foam brush to coat the stamp.
For the center pocket I tried another stamp and color.
The third stamp went on the last panel, but it was too much to expect my method to fill the panels perfectly. I had a blank section and didn't want to wreck it with the partial print- hard enough with the whole. I carved a potato stamp flower to use there as a filler stamp that I could manage. In the space above the pockets, it worked well too, mixing in the colors randomly.
To keep the eye from going to the obvious breaks and mistakes in the overall pattern, I added flowers here and there. All fine for an experiment and when wrapped around the waist, it's hard to see the whole thing at once. I set the prints with an iron to finish and also cleaned the stamps to remove the paint. If you didn't have these stamps, designs could be carved from potatoes or other materials. The apron was inexpensive although certainly, you could easily make one from muslin or canvas too.
Still learning how to use these, but it was so much fun. There is another tutorial for a pillow here which would be wonderful to try also. I loved it presented as a class lesson where one could talk about the craft and its history. (On one site, which I can't find now, I read about the Mercedes Benz symbol entering into the traditional symbology. Pretty fascinating.) The world of folk art and craft needs more voices, storytellers, teachers. It's a visual language we all share, and if you've read this far, you probably already know that! As Tim Gunn would say, carry on. xoC