This site is an experiment in creating an almanac of contemporary craft practice, and I’m pleased to find a network of like-minded folks who share an interest in reclaiming ‘craft’ beyond its niche as the lesser cousin of art and design. My hope is that this site will grow as a common repository for makers who share common goals regardless of the medium, audience or venue, leading to the kind of dialogue and insight essential to make visible what often happens in isolation. My recent contact with Christopher Robbins confirms my desire to revisit time spent living in a ‘traditional society’ in West Africa, and I find myself looking anew at treasures and discoveries culled from this formative time.
During the relative chill of the Harmattan season in Togo, I commissioned a village tailor to make me a jacket from a wax-died cotton pagne then common in markets throughout the country. The tailor copied a James Dean-style zipper/collar design I bought at a thrift store in the US, but the pagne adds a new layer:
E LA VA TIWO is an Ewe expression recalling the universal fable of the tortoise and the hare. I’ve heard it variously translated as ‘they will become tired..’ or, ‘let them speak.. (laissez les dire)’. Fables and parables are still in use enough in West Africa to allow anyone to fill in the blanks when reminded, and pagnes often function as external indicators of an internal state. Regardless of its precise translation, E LA VA TIWO connotes the perennial wisdom of the tortoise, who stays on track despite the apparent obstacles, unlike the capricious and often fool-hardy hare.