Gisele, the dyeing queen

22 August 2013

Gisele Moukoro Ouedraogo is a professional dyer. There are very few like her in Burkina Faso. Thirty years of experience and still the same passion for a well done job. Art teacher trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Mali, she then has set up her studio in Bobo Dioulasso.

This textile artist has specialized in the traditional dyeing, producing textiles for clothing and interior decoration: scarves, curtains, blankets, cushions, traditional loincloths…

In the beginning there is always the choice of fabric: always cotton, voile, canvas, jacquard… Thickness may change according to the final product she wants to make. Then comes the time when she can showcase her exceptional skills for dyeing and coloring, to give the chosen fabric its quality and ennoblement. This time, she has worked on a “basin”, the famous typical West African fabric. The word “ basin” comes from the mediaeval words “bombazine”, from the Italian “bambagine” (cotton) and the textile is used for traditional high quality costumes.

Folding, twisting, knotting, skilfully stitching, all those technical processes are used to create endless patterns on the fabric: stripes, dots, tie and dye effects. Gisele is constantly looking for new stitches, original designs, aiming for a truly sophisticated final result. She sometimes works on the entire cloth, or limits herself to narrow strips which she then assembles in the same way than the Faso dan fani, Burkina Faso’s traditional loin cloth is made.

Color comes to “bite” the fabric, leaving the stitching resist parts untouched and this is how you get the final pattern when the fabric has dried and the stitches are removed. Once the dyeing phase is over, the fabric is dipped into starch, dried again and then hammered with a wooden mallet to give it flexibility and shine.
Talent in Gisele’s family is transmitted from generation to generation; it is now to her son to win several awards as a batik artist, the traditional textile resist technic using wax and dye to create original drawings. They now work together in the same studio.

Proud of the quality of her work, the great dye lady can be proud of having designed clothing for the dignitaries of Burkina Faso. Now in her dashing sixties, always keeping her hands in water and color, Gisele has kept a remarkable determination and commitment to her art. She is a fierce supporter of an innovative and responsive craft approach and encourages the Burkina Faso craftsmen to be creative, to promote the Burkinabe textile know-how worldwide.