They are around for some years now and as fas as I know they were “discovered” by Australian quilt artist Jenny Bowker (www.jennybowker.com) – the tentmakers of Cairo. They do wonderful appliqué work on sturdy canvas which was originally used to line the interior of tents in the Midlle East.
Since 2007 Jenny Bowker tries to promote their work, not only to show the world what a stunning craft this is but also to support the stitchers as their art is a dieing one in their home country. You can find more about the tentmakers at Jenny’s website http://www.jennybowker.com/tentmakers/.
So if you are lucky you can find the tentmakers’ booth at one of the major quilt shows. If you walk into their booth there is a firework of colors,
there are some signs that someone is working here (like snippets of fabric on the ground),
and sometimes you even can watch one of the tentmakers working.
The beautiful appliqué pieces are only made by men with fathers teaching their sons. A skilled stitcher works really fast and without marking the appiqué pieces. And still it takes him one to six months (depending on the size) to finish one of these beautiful pieces.
In this video by Bonnie McCaffery one of the tentmakers shows how he works.
And in this video Jenny Bowker introduces two tentmakers and their colorful pieces. But the really interesting part is what Jenny has to say about their way of life and work.
Here a tentmaker shows the whole process of making a pattern, transferring it to the canvas and stitching the appliqué.
I hope you like this short introduction to the tentmakers of Cairo. If you get a chance to see one of their exhibitions don’t miss it. You will see a lot of colors, patterns and beautiful work and you will meet really friendly people.