Adire Eleko

Adire eleko is a resist method of adire, which itself is an act of designing fabric through dyeing. The whole process involves resisting some parts of a cloth either through tying, waxing or sewing.

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Batik fabric. Image Credit: AdireGuy|Firstmind Creatives on X.
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Adire eleko is a resist method of adire, which itself is an act of designing fabric through dyeing. The whole process involves resisting some parts of a cloth either through tying, waxing or sewing. Adire has its origin from Yoruba-land, the modern-day South-Western Nigeria.

Adire eleko, being an integral part of adire, is the application of starch paste (or wax; thanks to the advent of European colonization) as a form of resist in designing clothes before immersing in dye solutions – so that dye will not penetrate the said area (i.e. the area covered with wax/starch).

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Elsewhere, it is known by the name, “Batik”. In early times, adire eleko producers concentrated on designing their fabrics with indigo dye, extracted from the fermentation of “ewe elu” and cocoa pods ashes (soda ash). However, the advent of technology paves way to its transformation into a beautiful array of colours. So, Adire eleko and Kampala now come in different catchy and nasty colours.

Also, the art of Adire eleko in the past was concentrated majorly on local white cotton known as “teru”. It still is but the most amazing part is that there are numerous options in guinea brocade, satin, cotton, Ankara, linen, wool amongst others.

A sample of Adire Eleko. Image Credit: African Things.

Production

Adire eleko basically comprises of three important steps:

Step 1: Wash off the preservatives in your new fabric, in order to allow it absorb dye when eventually dipped into dye solution.

Step 2: Leave the fabric outside to dry for a while before you create your motifs or patterns on your fabric.

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Step 3: Immerse your resisted fabric into your well-prepared dye solution. Afterwards, squeeze and dip into warm water. Beating of the fabric or ironing duly follows.

Materials

Batik fabric. Image Credit: AdireGuy|Firstmind Creatives on X.

Here are the materials any fabric dyer would need; they perform the same function a pen performs for a writer:

  • Fabric – all kinds of fabric (esp. 100% cotton)
  • Dye
  • Dye chemicals – caustic soda or soda ash, and sodium hydrosulphite or common salt.
  • Cassava paste/wax – as a form of resist
  • Measuring cups and teaspoons
  • Wooden rod – for stirring
  • Safety equipment – Rubber gloves, nose guard, apron
  • Water
  • Cooking facility – stove, electric cooker, boiling ring, etc.
  • Brush, feather, foam or t-janti, stamps
  • Pencil or charcoal
  • Ruler
  • Iron
  • Polythene bags or plastic tarp
  • Flat surface (or table)
  • Dye vessels – stainless wares, etc.
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