This is Bob Dennis. His family has been weaving for generations in the Volta Region near the Volta Lake and Togo border. He is well educated and has written and published a book on Ewe Kente cloth weaving. He began weaving at the age of 9 and was a master weaver by the age of 12. He showed us each piece of equipment and each step of the process. I will never look at a piece of this beautiful art without a great appreciation for the skill involved and the hard work it takes to produce it. I bought the book and a table topper.
Most looms weave strips that are 4-5 inches wide and the length is determined by what it will be made into. For instance, if they are making place mats they would have a shorter piece than if they were to make a king sized bedspread. They cut and sew side by side many strips to make the place mats, table runners, table cloths and various sizes of bedspreads. There are custom looms which will weave a piece wider so that there are no strips sewn together. My table runner is a wide one.
These are just two of the 20 or so employees at this outdoor factory owned by Bob Dennis. He has hired weavers and then inservice trained them in the finer points of Ewe Kente. They get paid by the amount of fabric they produce. It may take three to four days to produce a four inch wide by 62 foot piece. It is impossible to describe in this blog the whole process. They do coordinate the treadle with their feet (see below) moving the two layers of warp threads up and down as they shoot the shuttle with the weft threads back and forth. All of this while they are counting how many rows of each color or changing for different designs. I could not have been more impressed!
This is a double weave (above) It requires many more warp threads and more work. The result is that you don't see the warp threads in the end... only the weft and the bottom (he has turned it over so we could see) is the more colorful.
This is a more complicated weave. See that the warp threads are in strips of several colors. The resulting patterns are beautiful.