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The Tentmakers of Cairo - One Night Only

Home > Perth > Craft | Exhibitions | Hobbies | Needlework | Quilt Making
by Shannon Meyerkort (subscribe)
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Guaranteed to change your mind about sewing
For many generations, the tentmakers of Cairo have been using their traditional techniques to applique their unique and colourful designs to line their majestic travelling tents. Using only a large needle and enormous tailoring scissors, the intricacy of the designs belie the simpleness of the tools.

The other unexpected discovery is that unlike many cultures the world over where detailed embroidery is the domain of women the Tentmakers of Cairo are all men.

Tentmakers of Cairo
Sameh Feruga and one of his designs, image courtesy WA

The people of Perth are invited to see the incredible work of the Tentmakers at a special event being hosted by the WA Quilters Association on Wednesday 2nd August. From 6.30pm there will be an exhibit of their work as well as the opportunity to buy their unique applique and at 7.30pm there will be a talk by one of the men (please note, cash sales only).

While some aspects of this traditional craft has changed over the years with the Tentmakers creating smaller pieces such as cushions, bedspreads and bags as well as the enormous tents the sophisticated designs and skills the men employ today, are much the same as those used by their ancestors.

Tentmakers of Cairo
Atef, a Tentmaker of Cairo, image courtesy WA Quilters

The patterns are elaborate and decorative, with each Tentmaker evolving their own unique and personal designs which they incorporate into their work. A recent film was made about the Tentmakers and their desperate attempt to keep their craft alive in the face of modern copies and printing with one woman upon witnessing the men at work saying:

"It is gobsmacking enough that they are men doing needle-turned applique. Then you realise how fast they are, how small their stitches are, and you realise that they are using tools we could never even give space in our sewing rooms. What they make brings tears to my eyes."

This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet some truly incredible artisans.

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Why? A rare chance to see an incredible craft
When: Wednesday 2nd August from 6.30pm
Where: Stirling Adriatic Centre and Bowling Club, 78 Jones Street, Balcatta
Cost: $10 entry (includes supper) children 16 and under are free
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