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Got It Made

See How the Artisans of Côte d'Ivoire Continue Their Textile Tradition

Got It Made 11/01/2018

 

There’s a whole lot that goes into creating a Five and Six Textile throw. Every single one is handmade by a weaving collective based in Waraniéné in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, and the process of making the fabric (that is eventually then turned into throws and pillows) has been practiced for hundreds of years and passed down generation after generation. Emma Wingfield, who co-founded the line with Laine Henry, works with the weavers to select pieces they think will be bestsellers and travels back and forth from New York to check in on the production process—here’s her recap of every last detail.

 

READY THE RAW COTTON

“It starts with unprocessed cotton, which is grown within a 13-mile radius of the collective. Because a lot of the cotton plantations in West Africa are now owned by larger companies, it’s all taken to a central processing plant where it’s loosely divided into rough balls of cotton. Those balls are then purchased by the weaving collective in natural white and this very deep indigo color because that color is very hard for them to dye in that quantity and get that kind of consistency by hand.”

 

DYE AND SUN-DRY

“If they want other colors, like the reds and yellow and dusty brown, they dye the natural cotton. It’s all hand-dyed in large vats, and it’s then laid out in the sun to dry. They also have to be mindful because the shade will tend to fade just a bit.”

 

SPIN ON

“Once the cotton is ready, it’s then drawn onto spools by hand. That hand-spinning creates the tension and the tightness the thread needs in order for it to be woven. It also creates the unique texture of the cotton itself. If you look at the individual threads, you can see that it’s kind of irregular and bumpy; that’s an indication of hand-spun cotton.”

 

Fiveandsixtextiles indigoadjoukrouthrow 1
Indigo Adjoukrou Throw
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PREP THE LOOM

“Next, the weaver starts to prepare the loomworks. Here, they use upright frame looms made out of wood—most were actually made by the weaver himself after he finished his training, which takes about ten years. Once the setup is done, he takes the cotton and begins to thread it onto the loom. These huge spools of cotton are usually stabilized with a rock, and then they stream meters and meters of cloth and create tension so they can spin.”

 

WEAVE, WEAVE, WEAVE

“Then they start to strip weave, which is very common in West Africa and across the world. Each strip is about five to six inches in width, and when the weaver sits down to start weaving, he knows exactly the pattern and what the ultimate goal is. So for example, if he knows it’s going to become a throw, he knows how these strips will be cut and then sewn together at the end. What’s really amazing is because it’s all done by hand and all done by eye, they’re often just slightly off, and it creates this great asymmetry.”

 

PIECE IT TOGETHER

“A throw can take about three days to make, from threading the cloth on the loom to having it completely finished. So once the weaver is done with the cloth, he takes it to a master tailor, who lays all the strips out, cuts them to a specific size, and cross-stitches them together, undoing the ends a little bit to create the fringe. That’s it!”

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