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It's Fall Harvest Time

Roses to Roselle

and Assemblage Part 2

Facilitator - Camille Hulbert,  Educator and CEO of MStar Arts Creative

Co-sponsored by: MidTown Community Garden

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"Harvest Festivals are celebrated all over Africa and the world! These celebrations are filled with lots of music, singing, and dancing with dancers adorned in traditional masks and costumes, some of what you will see in our museum exhibits."

In our previous mask making we used roses as our plant material.  For this workshop we will be working with the versatile bast fiber/textile “Roselle,” the beautiful flower botanically known as “Hibiscus Sabdariffa.”


Most say Roselle's origin is Africa, others say India & Asia; but few argue about the slave trade bringing it across the Pacific to tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, Brazil, Mexico, and the West Indies.  Some may know it as Sorrel, Flor de Jamaica, Jamaican sorrel, sour-sour, Florida cranberry, and Bissap - commonly called Senegal’s national drink.


Roselle is known for  its many uses, e.g., as a culinary ingredient, a natural food dye, used for medicinal herb purposes and for decoration. In this workshop Camille will be using it for decorating masks as part of our assemblage.


As part of this workshop we will also be sharing Senegalese Chef, Restauranteur, Cookbook Author, Pierre Thiam’s recipe for his Mint Hibiscus Cooler from his award-winning cookbook, Senegal – Modern Senegalese Recipes - From the Source to the Bowl. The recipe will be provided at the end of the workshop


Additionally, in this workshop we will follow up to our Intro to Assemblage workshop by adding new elements to the Assemblage.
If you missed the prior Mask Making Part 1 and Part 2 and Corn Husk Doll making workshops, click the hyperlinks above to be taken to the workshop pages!


Workshop Set Up

(c) Savannah African Art Museum


Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle

Photo by Roy Cui

What does Roselle Look like and How is it used? 

Roselle has many uses, as a drink, a natural fiber, a natural dye, and you can even turn it into a delicious jam.

The flowers on a fully bloomed Roselle plant can be dried and used as one of the plant materials from our mask making workshop. 

The fibers of the Roselle stalk can be turned into a fabric similar to burlap or hemp, this is one of the reasons we are using burlap in this assemblage part 2 project. On top of all of this, Roselle is edible! The recipe we have posted from Chef Pierre Thaim shows you one way to turn this plant into a beverage. 

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Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle stalk

Photo by Camille Hulbert

Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle bloom

Photo by Camille Hulbert

Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle seeds

Photo by Camille Hulbert

Let's Get Started

What You Will Need

  • Burlap or Fabric Square (6 inches)

  • Cowrie Shells

  • Scissors

  • Tacky Glue

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Assemblage Sample

(c) Camille Hulbert - Mstar Arts Creative 


Step One:

Prepare Fabric/Cloth 

Begin by cutting your fabric into a 6 inch square to make the base of the pocket. 


Step 2:

Form and Attach Your Pocket

There are many ways you can attach the pocket to your assemblage. In this method you will be using Tacky glue to attach your pocket. You can choose to sew it on or use other adhesives. 


Step 3:


After you glue your pocket on to your assemblage. You are going to design and place the cowrie shells on or around the pocket. Make sure you do not assemble the cowrie shells at the opening of the pocket.


Step 3:


After you glue your pocket on to your assemblage. You are going to design and place the cowrie shells on or around the pocket. Make sure you do not assemble the cowrie shells at the opening of the pocket.

When you finish, let your assemblage dry over night and then show off your finished work! 

Send us a photo of what you made! We would love to feature it on the workshop page!

Visual Step By Step Video

Mint-Hibiscus Cooler Recipe

Also known as roselle, hibiscus is native to West Africa, and hibiscus water is one of Senegal’s most popular beverages. Through the slave trade, it arrived in places like Mexico and Jamaica, where it quickly became very popular. Today, Senegal remains among the world’s largest producers of hibiscus. With very high levels of antioxidants, hibiscus is healthy and in this simple recipe, refreshing. The mint infusion makes it the perfect summer drink.


Hibiscus Tea with Mint


(Serves 6)


  • 1 quart plus 2 cups water

  • 1⁄4 pound dried red hibiscus flowers

  • 1⁄4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus extra sprigs for garnish

  • 1⁄2 cup honey or sugar


  • In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of the water, the hibiscus flowers, and mint to a boil. Turn off the heat, stir in the honey, and let cool.

  • Add the remaining 1-quart water. Set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and refrigerate. Serve cold over ice, garnished with extra mint.

  • NOTE: With the addition of light rum, this recipe makes a wonderful punch for a summer BBQ. Serve in a pitcher full of ice with a bit of rum, extra mint, and fresh lime slices.

Reprinted by permission from SENEGAL: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl by Pierre Thiam,
Lake Isle Press, 2015. Photography Evan Sung

Are there any Harvest Traditions that inspire or interest you? 
Use it as inspiration for this workshop and share your final project with us!

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