In the village of Abonse in Ghana, ladies are learning a unique method for dying fabric known as batiking. It is a humble, labor intensive operation. They begin with unbleached muslin and batik each piece of fabric in an original design. Wax is applied to parts of the material to block the dye from the cloth, and then the fabric is dyed, dried and boiled to remove the wax. Portions of the fabric that were coated with wax remain the original color while the rest is transformed with the new color. Designs are often created with multiple colors.
While traveling in Ghana, Dr. Ann Vail, Director of the School of Human Environmental Sciences, took an interest in the training program in Abonse. The women are learning new skills that could offer an economic development opportunity for the village. She purchased several yards of fabric and brought them back to Kentucky. That purchase has now led to a unique project involving Extension Homemakers in four counties.
County Extension agents for family and consumer sciences in Johnson, Pike, Lawrence and Boyd counties, in collaboration with their county Extension homemakers, have purchased yards of fabric originating from Abonse. Individuals have taken "fat quarters" (small cuts of fabric a little more than ¼ of a yard) to use to create an item. The project has been deemed the "Fat Quarter Challenge." The challenge is for each person with a piece of fabric to make a reproducible item. Participants can add any other fabric they want, but they must use the fat quarter fabric in the project.
Beginning in February (KEHA International Month), completed items will be auctioned. Proceeds will benefit the women from Abonse who are learning the batiking method as well as the Kentucky Academy, a kindergarten school in Adjeikrom, Ghana.