TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List | Decorating with Textiles: Ellie Schimelman

Decorating with Textiles: Ellie Schimelman

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umbrella in living room

An umbrella from Ghana is the centerpiece in Ellie’s living room.

abaEllie Schimelman lives in Brookline, Massachusetts (USA), but spends part of each year working in Ghana with the Cross Cultural Collaborative and Aba House:

Cross Cultural Collaborative, is a non-profit educational organisation that promotes cultural exchange and understanding.
Our programs emphasize multigenerational and multicultural collaborations encouraging participants to find rewards in different forms of art.

Aba House, as it’s known in the small village of Nungua, helps the local children to develop their creativity by teaching how to use tools for expanding their imagination and craftsmanship. The organization also supports the children by providing them with school materials and other necessities. We bring volunteers and artists from different cultures together in a supportive environment where they can get to know each other through the language of art. At the core of our program is the belief that interaction between African and non-African cultures is mutually enriching.

Aba House

Aba House in Ghana

Aba House’s design flows organically, blending function with African design. The walls radiate warmth while mosaics and painted surfaces invite creativity and welcome.

Aba House 2

abahouse6    abahouse-slide11

Inside spaces have that same warm feeling with African textiles adding richness and more color.

abahouse-slide6  abahouse-slide9

Ellie recreates some of that same feeling of color and welcome in her home in the US. She talks about her choices below:


For as long as I can remember I have wanted a red wall, so that’s where I started.

Ellie red wall

Red wall 2

And then the dining room wall became blue. I didn’t realize that I was mimicking the colors of some walls in African houses until someone mentioned it.

Dining room


My workspace is painted what the paint can called Watermelon (sort of hot pinkish). The salesman said, “Are you sure that you want that color?” Yes, indeed. White walls make me nervous!

My furniture is mostly “early Salvation Army”. I solved that problem by covering my tables with African cloth.


I LOVE traditional Kente cloth which means that I have expensive taste, but I chose to save my money until I could buy a few pieces. And I am also the happy recipient of some as gifts.

The umbrella in my living room was a gift. (first photo at top of this post) The old Ghanaian man who made it didn’t want me to have it. He said that it is meant for a Chief. So, somehow, my friend convinced him that I’m a Queen Mother. It helped that I wasn’t visible during the negotiations.

Perhaps the way you decorate reflects your personality. I tend to be spontaneous, but calm. I guess you could say Kente calms me!


Ellie is a member of TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List. See her profile here.  The Cross Cultural Collaborative offers workshops in Ghana where you can work on art projects with the local community and visit local artists. Ellie does have textiles and other crafts available for sale from her home, so contact her if you are interested in Kente. Surface designers would also really like the gourd carved stamps she has, used to stamp fabric and paper with African designs. You can purchase them here.

adinkra stamp

Adinkra stamps made from carved gourds.



Decorating with Textiles Series

Many thanks to Ellie for sharing her home and Aba House with us!

Would you like to participate in this series? The Decorating with Textiles Series is an ongoing project on this blog. This offer is open to all of you out there who love textiles. Many of our TAFA members make beautiful decorative textiles and functional work as well and showcasing these homes can help stimulate new ideas of what to do with textiles. Seeing a photo online is much different than seeing how a textile will function in an environment. Many people appreciate textiles but have no idea how to display them or what to do with them. We’d like to have many people participate in this series, each bringing in their own ideas and tastes.

Make sure to leave a comment for Ellie. I know that would please her immensely!

Contact me if you are interested and would like to submit a post:

rayela [@] comcast.net (remove spaces and brackets)

Visit TAFA to see inspiring art quilts, weavings and accessories for the home. Maybe you will find the perfect thing for your walls!

Also check out our TAFA Market and our TAFA shops on Etsy!

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I've been working with the arts and craft world in many capacities since 1988. Handmade textiles have been my core focus since launching TAFA in 2010.

My hope is to contribute to the economic development potential the arts bring to the world, along with the intrinsic beauty shown in the work. May the world become a friendlier place for artists and nature!

Arrived in Kentucky after a childhood in Brazil, college in Minnesota and 20 years in Chicago. It's been a ride!


on Decorating with Textiles: Ellie Schimelman.
  1. |

    I love the Adinkra stamps as much as the textiles!

  2. |

    Wow! I’m just green with envy :)))

  3. |

    OMG! I love those kente cloths and those stamps!!! Beautiful post!

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