Monday, February 10, 2014

Tentmakers of Cairo

At the AQS Show in Phoenix this past week, they had an exhibit of the Tentmakers of Cairo, Egypt. The wall hangings were just so beautiful! They are works of art!! I would live in a tent with the walls and floors covered with these. All the wall hangings were for sale. I was glad I went through the exhibit on the first day of the show. By the second day, several had been sold and were gone, including my favorite one, the cranes. They were very reasonably priced, ranging from around $450 to just over $2000. Price appeared to depend on the size, the complexity of the design,and who made the wall hanging. I would imagine some of the men had more experience than others. 

Tarek Abdelhay,  one of the tentmakers. He was 
very easy to talk with.  I so enjoyed watching him 
sew.  He was creating a 1/2" circle from a 2" square 
piece of fabric, clipping the fabric with 8" shears, 
while I watched him. I would've never gotten a 
round circle created this way!
Two tentmakers were there everyday, stitching their next wall hanging. It was fascinating to watch them sew. They are so quick. I was amazed at how large a needle  they use and at the large 8" shears to trim the fabric with. The needle looked like a size 16 or 18 chenille needle! I use a small size 12 straw needle and small 3" applique scissors to trim my fabric for applique work.  Their pattern is drawn onto a background fabric, which is attached to a canvas. The background can be any color, while the designs are a variety of colors. All the fabrics are solid colored cottons, of a fairly loose weave. I would have so much trouble with the fabric fraying, if I used the fabric they do! 

The prevalent designs are the lotus, a Romy (a vine-like design), geometric designs, and Islamic designs and writing. The tentmaker I spoke with said it takes him a couple weeks to make a wall hanging around 40" square. Wow! I've been working on a Baltimore Album quilt (by hand) for the past 5 years now and still have 4 more blocks plus the border to make.  I loved their designs! The wall hangings are so vibrant. I spent two days wandering the exhibit and watching the tentmakers sew. One was not supposed to take photos of the wall hangings, but when I asked if I could take some photos, I was told yes. Following are some of the photos I took of this exhibit.

Cranes. Approximately 40" x 40".  This wall hanging was so different from the 
other wall hangings.  I love the rich blues with red accents used to create the cranes.
I would've loved to buy this wall hanging, but unfortunately, it was not to be.

Lotus and Romy medallion design. Approximately 45" x 45". I'm drawn 

to this wall hanging for the medallion design and rich colors. 

Islamic design. Approximately 30" x 45".  I wished the tag told
what the words above the central geometric design mean in English
The writing itself is beautiful. The geometric design is lovely.

Blue Stars. Approximately 80" x 80". This geometric design with the flowing 
vines between the stars is just beautiful. It would make a gorgeous wall hanging, 
if you have a large wall space for it, or a beautiful bed cover. I would have loved 
to buy this one, too. However, this one was way beyond my budget.

Lotus and Romy designs. Approximately 40" x 50". I love the way
the turquoise and orange fabrics, along with the white outlining accents
make the design pop! Use of bits of turquoise, black, and bright colors
was one of the lessons from Noriko Endo in her confetti naturescape class. 
I enjoyed seeing that concept used in several of these Egyptian wall
hangings. Something to add to my own quilting designs. 

Romy columns and Vase with Lotus and Romy designs. Approximately 35" x 45". 
I love the columnar design of this wall hanging. Again, the orange and turquoise 
colors, with the white accents make the design pop! This is another wall hanging I 
would have liked to buy. Maybe in my next life!!

Vase of Lotus with Romy design. Approximately 25" x 35".  
This is a smaller wall hanging, but it is so beautifully done. 

Vase of Lotus Flowers. Approximately 40" x 40". I love the vase 
of lotus and the way the background highlights this vase. The blue 
stand and blue border gives a nice frame to the vase. This is another
wall hanging I would've loved to buy. 

Although I took all the photos, the wall hangings are copyrighted by the tentmakers of Cairo. I was given permission to take them, but not for anyone else to re-post or pin them.  You can check the Tentmakers of Cairo and their wall hangings out more on their Facebook page.


  1. This is absolutely spectacular! Thank you for sharing such wonderful information on tent making. Certainly gave me a new perspective on the art and insight into the detail and time devoted to such art!

  2. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit. It gave me new perspective on the apostle Paul, who was a tentmaker.