Awale Mag

Magazine for Africa's Creativity

Auteur/Author: Lucrèce GANDIGBE

Manual dyeing techniques

In Africa, dyeing is very valued. Women use it to restore the color oh old clothes or to compose unique creations. The manual nature of certain dyes is rised to the rank of artistic work. We are going to present in this article some of these techniques having very specific processes.

The Batik


It is a very widespread technique which requires a certain expertise. It uses liquid wax to achieve a multitude of patterns on cotton fabrics. The use of the wax prevents the colors from penetrating into the fabric instead it superimpose them on the fabric. Where the wax is applied, the fabric is waterproof, and thus retains its color. This process alternates wax, dyeing and drying to obtain original patterns. The fabric is initially coated with liquid wax to preserve the color of the fabric at certain places and then it is soaked in a first color of dye. After the first dye, you apply again the molten wax where you desire to preserve intact the first dye and you plunge the tissue in a second dye. The operation is repeated until you get the complete pattern and color you desire. After completing these operations, the different layers of wax applied is removed by soaking the tissue obtained in a boiling water. In African culture, realized patterns often have an interpretation, depending on the region of origin.

The tie-dye

This is a very old technique that uses winding, folding, sewing, twisting or compression to create beautiful designs. This blocks the entry of the dye in certain areas of the fabric. With beads for example, the aim is to cover the beads with the fabric and to attach the beads firmly into the tissue by using spring. The dyeing will be blocked on the areas where the elastic is located. You then need to dip the cloth in a hot water bath after the hot dye and let soak the fabric.


The more the tissue remains in the dye the more the color is intense. Once the tissue is removed from the dye, rinsed it with cold water until cold water is clear. Finally, the spring is removed and the dyed fabric passes in hot water before being dried.


It is a traditional dyeing technique used exclusively in West Africa. It uses vegetable dyes and clay from River Niger to produce patterns on a fabric dyed in advance to n’galama. To produce patterns, dyers use trace lines, metal spatulas, millet stalks, palmyra, feathers, brushes … clay from Niger River is used for this traditional technique because it has special dyeing properties on the dyed fabric to n’galama.


To appreciate the beauty of these dyeing techniques and many others, the Nomad’s brand offers it’s entirely hand made products and dyeing techniques.

Discovering Nomad’s

Nomad’s is a clothing line offered by two young African designers. It is the fruit of collaboration between artisans, weavers, dyers, tailors … worldwide. The brand offers many remarkable collections of the originality of dyes and sewing techniques. This year, Nomad’s prepares a spring / summer collection full of all the know-how of the Mauritanian dyers. Meanwhile discover all the exceptional models of the brand exclusively at AwaleBiz.


And here is a little glimpse of the creative process behind this Sping/Summer collection. Enjoy!

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Auteur/Author: Lucrèce GANDIGBE

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