Saturday, February 18, 2012

What to do with telephone wire? #49


Make baskets!!

You didn't think of that one, did you??


I didn't think of that one either, before I moved to South Africa!

So you are not the only one :-)

But aren't these beautiful??

The Zulus are the largest ethnic group in South Africa and many of us have heard of their most powerful king, Shaka, who united the fractious tribes and created the Zulu nation in the early 1800's.

The Zulu people have long been associated with their skill and artistry in fashioning African baskets from the native plants and grasses of their homeland as well as for their intricate and culturally important beadwork.

Now they have taken their age-old craftsmanship and applied it to a new medium: telephone wire. These bright, washable and sturdy wire baskets, called Imbenge in the native language, come in myriad colors and intricate, mesmerizing designs.

The idea to use wire for basket weaving reportedly came from security workers on the graveyard shift in South African factories. To while away the hours, they would often wind and weave brightly-colored bits of recycled telephone wire around their nightsticks.

From then on, a cottage industry was born. Weavers around the country started making bowls, plates, and other decorative pieces of art from what was essentially scrap metal. Some weavers use the designs frequently found in natural fiber baskets, while others create their own bold, new designs: swirling patterns in black-and-white or bright colors.

A weaver will spend between 20-25 hours weaving a 12”/30 cm imbenge basket. They are either made from grass or telephone wire. Just gorgeous these Zulu baskets!!

You want one??

Come and visit me :-)
Mireille xx

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