As is the case in many Third World countries, most South African families don’t have enough money to give toys to their kids. As would be expected, the kids make their own – usually from stuff that nobody wants.
What has happened is that this creativity has spilled over into the general community, which has needed to find ways to make money in times of horrific unemployment. So we are blessed in South Africa by a plethora of arts and crafts made from trash or stuff that no one else wants. My house is filled with them.
Pop cans are a huge resource for the do-it-yourself artist or toy maker. My online research indicates that Americans throw away, not recycle, 1500 cans a second - that's billions a year. Although not as wasteful, South Africans also gets rid of millions. Here is what you can do with them.
Roses – I have this bunch sitting on my desk in my office. Also saves water in this drought-prone land.
Sculpture – I saw this Coca Cola lion in a local shop.
Pictures – incorporating used cans and other leftovers into wall hangings is very popular here. How many brands can you find incorporated?
Tired of boring frames for pictures or mirrors? There is an alternative.
These handbags or purses use old car number plates as decoration.
And these notebooks have Castle lager cans as covers.
Do you need a shopping basket? Here's one made from cardboard, packets, advertising, etc.
Or need to know the time?
One of my favorite styles are baskets made from telephone wires. I wonder why my phone doesn’t work all the time.
A year or so ago, I was wandering around the Winterberg mountains, and I came across a little coop started by a farmer. She sold crafts made by locals, funneling all the money back to the artist. I couldn’t resist this hippo (a kubu) made from mud by a nine year old boy. It was his first sale as an artist.
One of my coffee tables sports half a dozen or so bird sculptures made from seed pods, mud, and wire. I love them.
Very common throughout the country is ‘stuff’ made from wire. It is fascinating to watch an artist sitting on the side of the road start with a long piece of wire, which is slowly bent into something gorgeous, like the baobab tree shown below, which I photographed on my village Knysna's Main Street.
Here is the one I own. I use it to hold the dried proteas picked from my garden.
It didn’t take long for these artists to incorporate beads into their work, and bead pieces are now a separate genre. Look at the detail of this cock.
Anything can be used as subject matter from lizards, to giraffes, to seahorses (the symbol of my village, Knysna).
And all of this is separate from the wonderful wood and soapstone sculptures that are for sale everywhere.
I'm so lucky to live in a place where creativity thrives, producing objects rich in colour and design.
Stan - Thursday