Inspired by craft and tradition, Madwa
is an ethical craft project that works with small groups of master weavers in Madagascar and Swaziland to produce contemporary ranges of woven textiles, homeware and accessories.
Based in South Africa, Madwa harnesses the unique weaving skills of the different cultural groups and regions it works with, and is about the preservation of a unique craft heritage, assisting the weavers with product development and gaining access to international markets.
The products produced are woven using sustainable materials such as raffia, palm and sisal; whilst contemporary colour schemes and patterns update traditional styles across baskets, cushions, stools, storage containers handbags, hats and throws.
Products at Liberty's priced at: £6.50-£30
For further information about Madwa and to find stockists visit: www.madwa.com
To purchase from Liberty online visit: www.liberty.co.uk
Ngwenya Glass Blowers
Ngwenya means ‘crocodile’ and encircled by mountains nestles the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, where one of the mountains is said to resemble a basking crocodile; at the summit of this mountain is an ancient iron ore mine that dates back 43 000 years and at the foot you will find the Ngwenya Village, home to the Ngwenya Glass Blowers. I mentioned Ngwenya Glass
in the recent post I did on the ‘Piece
’ jewellery exhibition and although they created some of the beads that were used, Ngwenya Glass’ scope is much wider. Ngwenya Glass is a factory cum studio producing some rather striking, unique glass products encompassing interior home accessories and tableware. The designs are fluid and very quirky mainly picking up on animal themes given the proximity to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife populations, in addition to the rich cultural heritage of local Swazi life; think elegant warriors forming the stem that supports the glass to miniature glass animals that double up as candleholders and napkin rings.
Ngwenya Glass was first started in 1979 by Swedish Aid, who provided machinery and training, closing its doors in 1985 before being revived in 1987 by Richard, Alix and Chas Prettejohn; a family living in South Africa who had a penchant for collecting the glass animals produced by Ngwenya Glass, then known as Swazi Glass Craft, and were saddened when production ceased making the decision to do something about it after a chance visit to the area. Today the factory is going from strength to strength with a fully stocked studio welcoming visitors, who can take the opportunity to observe the glass blowing techniques first hand via an overhead balcony. Ngwenya Glass employs a staff of 70 including several original members, among them Sibusiso Mhlanga, one of the original glass blowers who has trained locally and in Sweden as well as working with some of the world’s leading glass blowers. Sibusiso trains all the new apprentices.
All glass products are made from 100% recycled glass bottles collected by local people who get paid for them, the bottles are then melted down to be reformed into delicate items like drinking glasses, vases, pitchers, platters and animal ornaments. As environmentalists and conservationists, Ngwenya Glass organises clean-ups of the local area, and works with local schools to instil environmental awareness amongst students. Ngwenya Glass also strives to help protect the animals that offer so much inspiration and established the Ngwenya Rhino and Elephant Fund in 1989 to aid wildlife conservation, donating a percentage of its worldwide profits towards Mkhaya Game Reserve, a refuge for endangered species of wildlife in Swaziland.
…you can never too many glasses
Products currently available on Pure Swazi priced at: ZAR47 / USD$5-ZAR332 / USD$42
Products currently available on Amazon UK priced at: £9-£62
For further information about Ngwenya Glass visit: www.ngwenyaglass.co.sz
To purchase Pure Swazi visit: www.pureswazi.com/; and Amazon UK visit: www.amazon.co.uk
Alber Elbaz for Lanvin/Dessine L'Espoir Lanvin,
acknowledged as the longest running couture fashion house, recently launched its first ever girls wear collection, called ‘Lanvin Petite’ and to mark the occasion has commissioned a set of four very chic soft dolls. Designed by Elber Albaz, Lanvin's celebrated Creative Director, the beautifully hand-embroidered and hand stitched limited edition dolls were produced by a community of women in Swaziland and will be on sale from November. Lanvin, a fashion house with a rich heritage teamed up with charity Dessine L'Espoir
(also known as Designing Hope) to create the pretty little dolls which are dressed in miniature versions of the new 'Lanvin Petite' collection, and said to pay homage to Lanvin’s founder Jeanne Lanvin, who loved designing children’s clothes. Under the helm of the Israeli designer Elber Albaz, renowned for his imagination, luxury and fantasy; Lanvin is one of the world’s sought after fashion collections; who can forget last years ‘stampede’ when Lanvin teamed up with H&M for a collection that promptly sold out! Born in Moroccan Elber Albaz continues Lanvin’s legacy of timeless, feminine clothes made from the finest of fabrics and this aesthetic is translated into the beautiful dresses of the dolls. Lanvin and Dessine L'Espoir have worked together in the past and this latest collaboration is a continuation of the partnership.
Dessine L'Espoir is an NGO working throughout the African continent, which uses creativity to address the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS. Dessine L'Espoir assists individuals and communities living with HIV/AIDS and the resulting impact by providing support in the form of home-based care, medical, food and shelter and psychological support; as well as running training programmes such as sewing workshops, offering financial assistance and establishing income-generating projects. Dessine L'Espoir's pioneering initiative, called ‘Fashion Designs Hope’ sees collaborations between fashion designers, artists, musicians and other creatives to create objects that are then made by the local communities it supports in Africa; initiatives have been run in Swaziland, South Africa and Burkina Faso to name a few. The group holds many exhibitions and fundraising activities with proceeds going towards the projects it has established and a percentage of each Lanvin doll sold will go to Dessine L'Espoir.
...all dolled up and resplendent in their finery right down to their 'painted' fingernails the figurines are sure to become collectables. Additional Information Sourced From:www.vogue.co.uk
Available in November the dolls will be priced at: £220/€250
For further information on visit: www.dessinelespoir.org
For further information on visit: www.lanvin.com
In Northern Swaziland lies an area called Piggs Peak home to Coral Stephens
; a close-knit community hand weaving high-quality luxurious textiles for home and personal use. Founded in 1949 by Coral Stephens the company produces carpets, rugs, blankets, curtains, shawls and fabrics woven from hand spun mohair and silk; cotton, raffia and wool. Plain or textured designs are skillfully showcased through complimentary hand dyed contemporary colour palettes like; ecru, fawn, brown, duck egg blue, olive and ruby.
Coral Stephens beautiful products can be seen throughout homes, hotels and other corporate establishments throughout the country and beyond. A small selections of blankets are available to purchase via the website; for all other products contact Coral Stephens directly. Through individual requests and collaborations with decorators on special projects, fabrics and carpets can be customised into different colourways and patterns according to specific needs.
…a chic accessory for a picnic in the park or for instantly brightening up and adding interest to a dull interior
Prices for blankets on the website: R595-R995
For further information and to order visit: www.coralstephens.com
To purchase blankets online visit: www.coralstephens.com
Picking up from where I left off on my exploration into the different types of basketry found across the continent; I find myself quite taken by these glass bowls edged with a swathe of woven basketry. Created by Swaziland-based, Gone Rural
I came across them on the US-based Amaridian Gallery
, and they give a fresh updated look to the traditional woven basket. The way the basket weaving techniques have been combined with recycled glass has produced some beautiful, unique looking bowls.
[image credit: Gone Rural - Amaridian Gallery]
A socially responsible business set up by the late Jenny Thorne in 1992, Gone Rural started life as a small local business in Swaziland working with 30 women. Gone Rural has now evolved into an international company providing an income for over 731 women and supplying in excess of one thousand retail outlets in over 32 countries. Gone Rural works to promote understanding and respect of Swazi cultural heritage; hand woven products utilise traditional skills that are combined with high quality design and recycled materials are often used. When new products are created or new techniques implemented, training workshops are held to assist with skill sharing and this helps maintain the high standard of the products being produced.
...a stylish update of a classic that is simple yet ingenious .
For further information about Gone Rural visit: www.goneruralswazi.com For further information about Amaridian visit: www.amaridianusa.com
Getting ready to trim the tree? Christmas is a time for giving, receiving and sharing so why not let your tree embody that sentiment with meaningful ornaments. Bypass the convenience of picking up mass-produced baubles from your highstreet store, instead find out what local artists, designers or community organisations have to offer, and it goes without saying your local church, school and community fairs are sources for uncovering some unique gems. With so much to chose from I have zoomed the spotlight on Tintsaba
whose wonderfully simple yet stylish ornaments brought a smile to my face.
[Image credits: Tintsaba]
Tintsaba, set up in Swaziland in 1985, specialises in high-quality hand woven products using sisal. An income-generating organisation, Tintsaba enables women in the local communities to become highly skilled master weavers, silversmiths and/or managers, through investing in a continuous cycle of training and product development. A focus on individual development
is one of Tintsaba’s core values, creating an environment where the women can participate in HIV/AIDS training workshops, a literacy training programme called Tintsaba Reads and have access to a mobile health clinic. Over the years approximately 900 women have benefited and contributed to the success of Tintsaba.
[Image credits: Tintsaba]
To complete the effect, why not hang them on this gorgeous wooden birch tree by South African design company Koop
, available at PurelyAfrican
[Image credit: Purely African] Additional Details:
Selected Tintsaba products can be bought at Purely African, prices range from: £3.50-£4.50
Birch Christmas tree: £95For further information and international stockists visit: www.tintsaba.com