Egyptian tentmakers to thrill at quilt festival

LOCAL quilters are expected to be among the throngs which attend the Siyadala-We Create National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth from July 3-8.

The eagerly awaited event on the South African quilting calendar attracts delegates  and quilters from all over the Eastern Cape, South Africa and abroad.  The Dias Quilters’ Guild of Port Elizabeth will host it.

A highlight this year is the exhibition of stunning hand and machine made competition quilts, from traditional to art quilts, created by the top quilters and textile artists in South Africa.

A wide variety of quilt and textile related workshops will be running all week, as well as lunch hour lectures. Many quilts shops from around South Africa and major sewing machine companies will be trading at the festival offering a great shopping experience for quilters all round.

AS OLD AS TIME: Renowned ‘Tentmakers of Cairo’, Ekramy Hanafy, left, and Hany Mahmoud will be featuring at the Siyadala-We Create National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth next week

Brenda Dickeos of Siyadala said they are thrilled to have two men representing the world renowned “Tentmakers of Cairo” in Egypt, on the festival teaching panel – a first for the South African quilt world.

“They will teach a time-honoured tradition passed from father to son over generations. Their magnificent applique quilts will be on display in their own exhibition,” said Dickeos.

Jenny Bowker, a high profile Australian quilt teacher who noticed their work and introduced them to the world-wide quilt shows, will be teaching two workshops and present a lecture on the tentmakers.

Infinity by Marilyn Pretorius. Best use of colour at NQF 2016

The Tentmakers of Cairo are a group of men who work in the market district in Cairo, Egypt, in an area called the “The Street of the Tentmakers”.  They practice an age-old tradition of applique that is passed down from generation to generation.  Ekramy Hanafy and Hany Mahmoud, representing the tentmakers, will be at the festival to teach their skills.

They are both traditional tentmakers and are considered leaders in their field.  As young men, they trained in Cairo with master tentmakers. The men have travelled to other countries with exhibitions wowing quilters worldwide, teaching and sharing the unique and simple techniques used for centuries in Cairo.  A selection of exquisite work, made by various tentmakers, will be on display in a satellite exhibition at the festival.

Jenny Bowker, a high profile Australian quilt teacher with the two tentmakers from Cairo
Three generations of button and patches by Charmaine de Freitas

The decorative hand stitched appliqued textiles in Egypt are known as Khayamiya and are used to decorate tents, as well as wall hangings and pillow covers.  The oldest known tent was found in an Egyptian tomb and was made more than 4 000 years ago.  There are gaps in the known history of the work, but the Egyptian tradition is known to have been consistent and ongoing since the Ottoman period.  There are samples of appliqué with linen fabric from Tutenkhamen’s tomb and from the Maamluk era (1250 – 1517 AD).

The Keiskamma Project and 67 Blankets for Mandela will both feature at the festival.  The venue is at Collegiate Girls’ High School and the festival hours are 9am-6pm every day between July 3-7.

For more information about workshops and lectures, visit the Siyadala website.