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from her hands, to your home

Collaborative Color Palettes

Maadili Collective works directly with a cooperative of basket weavers in Western Uganda that are masters of both intricate weaving and the creation of natural dyes. We place large seasonal orders for a variety of basket shapes and sizes in a carefully curated color palette that reflects the seasonal aspects of home decor trends. Half of the dyes in the palette are naturally produced from hand gathered plant materials and the other half are safe synthetic dyes. The dyes are then created and the artisans skillfully adjust them to match the chosen colors of the order. Once the color formulas have been finalized, the weavers hand dye the bales of raffia used to weave the basket designs. Baskets with naturally dyed materials are much more labor intensive as so much preparation goes into the process before the basket weaving actually begins.

 


 

Simple Materials from the Earth

Raffia, a fiber from a native palm tree, grows naturally on the shores of Lake Victoria in the southeastern part of Uganda and in other tropical areas of Africa. Banana fiber makes up the interior of the basket coils and are harvested directly from banana trees in the village. Stalks of the banana tree are cut and split into thin fibers and then dried in the sun.

 

Natural Dye Process


 

Colors from the Forest

The artisans are masters in natural dying techniques; they plant community garden spaces to grow plants that produce many of the natural colors found in their handmade baskets. Natural materials such as hibiscus flowers, indigo, madder root and turmeric are mashed in large wooden mortar and pestles to release the dyes from the plant fibers. 

 

Heat Creates Depth

The natural dyes are created by heating the plant fibers with water in metal tubs over open flames. The raffia is added to simmer in the dye bath until the color saturates the raffia - the longer the raffia is allowed to sit in the dye bath the deeper the natural color becomes.

 

Transformation is New Possibility

Wood ash is often added to the dye bath to adjust the pH level and achieve different color variation. Almost magically, ash can be used to create a variety of colors from a single plant source. Once the raffia has reached the desired color, it is removed from the dye bath and rinsed.

 

Stunning Palettes of Village Life

Like earthly decorations, dyed raffia is hung to dry on lines throughout the village.

Once completely dry, the artisans begin the weaving and designing process.

 

It's More Than Just a Basket

Each basket weaver has her own personal journey and story to tell. Each one has been impacted by the crafts that they produce. They each have stories of hope and resilience which are woven into each basket.

Meet the Weavers

 

The Start of Something Beautiful




Each basket begins with a tightly woven spiral foundation and grows as the weavers wrap raffia around coiled banana fiber. An array of both natural and synthetically dyed raffia are used to create intricate and innovative patterns.