PAINT YOUR OWN BATIK
From the moment you arrive at Twananani Textiles on the The Ribola Art Route near Elim in the Soutpansberg, you feel warmly welcomed. Amukelani Maluleke, Mma Florence Ngobeni, Mma Evelyn Maluleke and the other women of the Twananani co-operative have big smiles and open hearts.
As you step out of the bright sunshine into the Aladdin’s cave of colour, you experience a sensory overload with the neon floral Shangaan yellows and pinks competing with the bold Venda stripes in red and green. And this is just the beginning … colourful batik and hand-painted tablecloths, sarongs and skirts as well as hand-stitched, beaded cushions are piled high on shelves around the workspace with whirring sewing machines and blank cloths awaiting their transformation. Amukelani, with her big personality and infectious laugh, explains the art of batik printing, practised by this co-operative for over a decade.
Beautiful, hand-made wooden stamps capture the unique symbolic patterns from nearby homesteads and are used to create cloths of every colour, shape and size.
Amukelani pulls you over to the work-table and the sense of excitement grows as she demonstrates how you will be able to make your own unique cloth. It is a fun and fabulous process of using the wooden stamps or tracing and drawing your design; outlining the picture in heated wax and then choosing your own palette of colours to paint your creation. The festive atmosphere becomes one of creative concentration and collaboration as the Twananani ladies lean in and work elbow to elbow to help you finish your design. Laughter and song fills the air as you gather around the molten wax pot or sit on the floor with your mentor and enjoy the tactile hands-on experience of painting an ‘original’.
It’s one thing to buy a beautiful tablecloth or sarong and quite another to take home your own creation, something that reflects the merging of decades-old techniques and symbology with your own personal life narrative. A simple transaction is transformed into a meaningful experience of connecting with a culture quite different to your own and learning to tap in to a talent you never knew you had. This is the joy of travel and a way for the memories to whisper in your soul long after your journey is done.
Mbhokota is an area rich with talent, but it is the time spent with the artists and crafters which really makes the Ribola Art Route come alive.
These dynamic, creative experiences can be booked through Love Limpopo and are flexible in length and product, depending on your group, your pockets, how much time you have and your interest/level of expertise. When travel once more becomes part of our everyday lives, connect with us to book a date for cultural and creative connection on the Ribola Art Route.
Want to book your cloth-making experience with the woman of Twananani Textiles? Click here.