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Kwanzaa Assemblage Workshop

A celebration of family, community, and culture!

With facilitator, Camille Hulbert, CEO MStar Arts Creative

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African celebration based on the agricultural harvest celebrations of Africa called “First Fruits,” which were times of harvest, ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration!  Harvest Festivals are celebrated all over Africa and  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. Kwanzaa is celebrated by millions throughout the world From December 26th – Jan 1st.  It celebrates Family, Community, and Culture! As part of the 7-day celebration when families and friends gather, candles are lit each day to affirm the Nguzo Saba (7 Principles), hand-made decorations and gifts are displayed and exchanged.


Kwanzaa Altar

Flickr Image Hosting

(c) Black Hour

How does the Assemblage fit into Kwanzaa? 

An Assemblage in art, is a work produced by incorporating everyday 3D objects into a composition on a 2D or 3D surface. Although each non-art object (e.g., strips of ribbons, newspaper) acquires aesthetic or symbolic meanings within the context of the whole work, it may retain something of its original identity. It’s similar to a collage, but with 3D elements. 

A Kwanzaa Assemblage is a great way to celebrate your family, community, and culture. It is art comprised of various objects that tells the story you wish to share.  Our September “Africa, Fiber & Cloth”- Mask Making, our October & November “Fall Harvest” workshops and our final Elephant Ear/African Mask Plant applique instructions can help you decide what you want to use to tell your story and how to build your assemblage. Choose from corn husk dolls  to represent family members, African masks to represent African ancestors, a strip of fabric, clothing, or something that represents the family matriarch/patriarch (e.g., a recipe for a favorite dish), The Nguzo Saba, or affirmations for the new year.

If you have not joined us for the September – November workshops or need a refresher, we’ve got you covered! Follow the workshops below and in no time, you will be  brought right up to the final steps of making and adding the Elephant Ear /African Mask applique, which is added in the instructions at the bottom of this page.

Harvest Time

September - November Workshops



Mask Making Pt 1



Mask Making Pt 2



Corn Husk Dolls

Assemblage image w-corn, doll, mask.jpg




Roses to Roselle

Let's Get Started

What You Will Need

  • Burlap or Fabric Square (6 inches)

  • Elephant Ear Leaf

  • Mod Podge

  • Animal Image Fabric (We used an elephant)


Applique supplies

(c) Camille Hulbert - Mstar Arts Creative 


Step One:

Prepare Plant Material

Once you have either dried or have a fresh Elephant Ear/African Mask Leaf.  You are going to cover both sides of the leaf with paint brush and Mod Podge.

(You can dry it like we did the roses in:

“Africa, Fiber & Cloth” - Mask Making Part 1 & Part 2  or work with it undried, as we did here)


Step 2:

Attach Your Patch

Once the plant material is painted with Mod Podge, you can place your piece of fabric onto to the Elephant Ear/African mask leaf. You are going to paint over both the plant material and fabric with Mod Podge.


Step 3:

Assembling the Applique to the Assemblage

Option 1. You can assemble the applique with the Mod Podge to the burlap assemblage, the same way we assembled the plant material and fabric in the "Intro to Assemblage Instruction

Option 2. If you do not have an elephant ear/african mask plant leaf, you can download the applique template here , cut out the template and place it on applique paper.  Cut the applique paper to look like the applique template by placing the template over the applique paper and either tracing with a pencil or cutting with scissors. You can now take the same steps and place the fabric over the applique paper and cut the fabric to the same shape as the applique paper. Instead of Mod Podging, you will iron on the applique to the burlap.

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

Final Assemblage Project

In our completed Kwanzaa Assemblage we have combined mask making, use of fiber, textile, cloth, dyed corn husk, cowrie shells, and pocket making from our September – November workshops. We have added a few seed pockets and completed the Affirmation pocket by Mod Podging strips of  paper with the Kwanzaa Nguzo Saba (7 Principles) sprouting from the pocket. Our completed Kwanzaa Assemblage now hangs in the museum with the roselle fiber (stem). In our previous workshops our Workshop Facilitator, Camille Hulbert drew inspiration from various pieces of art on exhibit here at the museum (e.g., the Kakungu Mask, the Kuba exhibit).  For this final elephant ear/elephant mask applique, Camille drew inspiration from the Mukenga Mask on display at the Museum.

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