Pin It
Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Gullah Fan for Kids

By
Amber's daughter with her Gullah fan

One of the early things my husband and I realized in parenting our African-American daughter, was how regional and varied “African-American Studies” could be, from state to state and region to region. Here in historic Philadelphia, there are points of reference that are de rigeur for a Philadelphia school’s program, and they are usually related to this city’s history.

But my good friend Lisa Rentz, a teaching artist in Beaufort, South Carolina, participates in an entirely different African-American experience. She has her Gullah Studies Certificate from the Penn Center of South Carolina (just celebrating its 150th anniversary) and provides arts and creative writing curricula based around aspects of this unique African-American culture.

Who are the Gullah or descendents of the Gullah? The official “Gullah Heritage” corridor is from Jacksonville, NC (which is about an hour north of SC) to Jacksonville, Florida. My friend tells me that Beaufort, SC—part of the “Carolina Lowcountry” region—is “Gullah central–Sea Island cotton, frogmore stew all that good stuff.”

A craft well-known in the Gullah community is the making of sweetgrass baskets. This craft originated in West Africa and continues today in the Lowcountry region. But, in these dog days of summer—and with sweetgrass becoming an endangered plant, even in the South—we need a good fan. In the Southern states, commemorative flat fans, the kind on a wooden stick, are designed for specific events, such as celebrations, remembrances, even advertisements. And in the summertime, they are necessary!

For this very easy, very adaptable craft, you get to use my hand-drawn fan template included here as a PDF.

Materials

Thick paper or posterboard
Popsicle sticks
Bubbles
Soap
Blue food coloring

Instructions

1. Cut two of this shape out from poster board (we found a packet of 11 by 17” poster board, which was very convenient).

2. Decorate one side of each piece of poster board. To evoke the indigo growing and dyeing techniques historically practiced in the Gullah community, we made a bubble “paint” of commercial children’s bubbles, colored with blue food coloring, and with a little extra Dawn dish soap mixed in (because the food coloring weighs heavy on the bubble mixture.) This gives a pattern of random splatters as well as totally concentric, blue-and-white circles. (Another technique that would evoke indigo resist dye techniques would be to draw on your fans with a white crayon, and then paint a blue watercolor wash over them.)

3. Glue your two fan pieces together, blank sides facing. Put a book on top for a few hours so they stay nice and flat. Then create a “sandwich” of popsicle sticks at the base (on each side of the fan, and glued together to form a double-thick handle). Weigh this down for a few hours as well.



If you wish to decorate the edge of your fan with lace, colored duck tape or even a fabric edging—it would be lovely. We were too hot to be bothered!

Here are some additional links:

The Lowcountry Arts Integration Project in Beaufort, SC.

Beaufort SC 365–an arts & travel app with a whole category of Gullah info and images.

Penn–founded in 1862 as a school for the newly liberated population of St. Helena Island, Penn has since served as a retreat for Martin Luther King Jr., Peace Corps members in training, and visitors from around the world who want to learn more about the Gullah experience

© 2012, Amber Dorko Stopper. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


The African Guide to Co-sleeping

10 must-read tips on co-sleeping from Africa

Don’t Touch My Child! Lessons from Asia

Has the West taken fear too far?

9 Things You Should Never Say to Adoptive Parents

Have you made any of these mistakes?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Amber Dorko Stopper is a writer, knitter and mother in Philadelphia. She blogs at www.voluptuousstoicism.com.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More Crafts