Estelle Carlson
dyer, handweaver, tailor, USA


Textiles have always held a fascination for me -- especially those textiles from Africa and Asia. I enjoy sewing, weaving, creating and collecfing fabrics. Through my father, a native of Guatemala, I became acquainted not only with handwoven fabrics, but a fabric dyed in a particular manner -- in Spanish this dyeing technique is called "jaspe". However, the more familiar terms are the Indonesian term "ikat" or the Japanese term "kasuri". All these terms refer to "resist dyeing".

I learned to weave while in high school, but it wasn't until much later that I actually purchased a loom (I now own three looms). And it was with my new loom that I began to explore the endless possibilities of designing and weaving fabric. Along with the exploration of the loom's capabilities, I also began to study dyeing techniques. Therefore, I not only weave my fabrics, I also dye the yarns used in the fabrics.

Dyeing and weaving for me is not only limited to the confines of my studio. I have traveled throughout Asia and Africa meeting fiber artists who possess a vast array of unique skills in the creation of textiles. In Asia complex looms are used to create lovely brocades, satins and fine cottons. In Africa fiber artists also express their love for beauty with their handwoven cloth: bogolonfini (mud dyed fabric) of Mali, the raffia cloths of Zaire, Aso Ike of the Yoruba, Kente and Ewe cloth from Ghana, wax printed fabrics from East Africa and the resist-dyed indigo cloths are only a few of the tantalizing fibers that have their origins in the continent of Africa.

Not only do the weavers I meet and the fabrics I see stimulate ideas, but the beauty and diversity of the African landscape overwhelm me: the harsh solitude of the Sahara in contrast to the lushness of the Central African rainforest along with the amazing animal life and grasslands of the Serengeti.

Hopefully, my garments express my joy and enthusiasm in having contact with fiber artists. For me creating clothing is my way of expressing and sharing with others my interests and responses to my experiences.


these pages submitted to africancraft.com by Estelle Carlson,
Oct. 1999 -- last updated, May. 2003