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Friday
Nov082013

Tentmaker's Teaching

Canberra Quilters decided to ask Egyptian Tentmakers Ekramy Hanafy and Hany Abd el Khader to teach while they were in Canberra for the Egyptian Embassy open weekend.

We were enchanted with these classes.

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I had been a bit concerned as both men have English - but they are not fluent - and I was unsure how well they could explain what they were doing and why.

Melinda Coupland Pearce and I decided to make kits.  This would simplify the class for the students as there would be less dithering about what to bring. Because tentmakers work on canvas we knew that supplying this would be easier than trying to explain what to get.

We made coloured kits that contained 1/2 metre of one fabric and fat quarters of two others. Separately we had piles of white, cream or black background colours (fat quarters) and equivalent amounts of canvas and brown paper for transferring the designs. Students chose a set of colours for themselves and then a background. Canvas and brown paper was on their space on the tables.

They were asked bring an awl if they had it, paper and fabric scissors, hand sewing needles and small ones were recomended as an addition, and an old phone book, and any other usual sewing equipment for hand work (which covered thimbles for those who used them).

We also supplied five awls, white wax pencils for the black backgrounds, cinnamon for pouncing on light backgrounds and baby powder for dark backgrounds, and three ready-traced patterns for each student - a simple Islamic design, a simple lotus design, and a more difficult Islamic design for the experienced appliquers.  I had ordered a stack of books from AQS - see The Ancient Art of Applique on the AQS site.

 We set up the room as a U shape and put a large folding cutting table in the centre as a demonstration base.

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They learnt how to fold the brown paper from a perfect square to eight layers in a triangle shape. Then they pinned the main pattern on top, being sure to align the centre.

Then they pricked through with an awl through all the layers cushioning the paper with an old telephone book or a folded canvas, making sure the holes in the bottom layer were still a reasonable size. This pierced design sheet was pinned over the background fabric and smoothed out. Light backgrounds were dusted with cinnamon, dark backgrounds with baby powder.

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This layer was carefully lifted away, and the design drawn out in pencil or white wax pencil.

Then the stitching started. Hany demonstrated the Islamic style, and Ekramy demonstrated lotus.

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Threading up - some used their own favourite sizes, some tried some of the big needles the tentmakers use - size 4 Straw needles.

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Ekramy doing Lotus demonstrations

 

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And Hany on the Islamic designs.

Look at some of the pictures to see how well it worked.

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Teachers walking the room

 

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Helping with the drawings - after excess cinnamon was tipped off the light ones. Between cinnamon and baby powder the room smelt amazing.

 

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A simple lotus and a simple Islamic design

 

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We had a wonderful time - on all four days. One of the most common comments was "I have never enjoyed a class so much!"

Both men were wonderful and natural teachers and the room was full of smiles most of the time.

Thank you Ekramy, and thank you Hany. You will be remembered very fondly by Canberra Quilters.

And - thank you Canberra Quilters for organising such a marvelous set of workshops - especially Melinda Coupland Pearce and Linda Magee.

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Reader Comments (5)

Looks like a great class! Trying to make work as detailed as the Tentmakers is probably a great way to really appreciate the mastery they have. I'd love to take a class and see their work up close. Their detail and design is sooo impressive!

November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne Marklin

I would love to do a class

November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

It sounds like a wonderful workshop, one that it would be a privilege to be a student in!

November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVireya

What a wonderful way to spread good will and understanding of cultures. I hope that such inspiring and exciting classes could be shared here in Jordan, to highlight Arab culture and keep the heritage going.
It's only by hands on face to face, and sharing that we can ever understand other cultures.

November 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlma Lou

Your pattern on Craftsy caught my attention and I wanted to know more about you - Your quilts are just stunning...!

I live in Greece, perhaps because I love vibrant light and colours. How you play with geometric shapes and textures absolutely resonates with me.

The description of this workshop was very interesting to me. I've never heard of the interior decoration of tents. Using cinnamon and baby powder for tracing and old phone books as support for the hole punching are great ideas - charcoal and chalk dust don't stick long enough.

I don't know whether you're still active on this website - or somewhere else - but if so, please tell me how I can follow your new posts.

Thank you for this inspiration!

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

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