Meet the Artists
We believe in believing in our artists and producers. That is why we work with them on product development, together creating innovative designs for every season. We offer a fair wage, in line with the principles of Fair Trade, and on top of that we reinvest a substantial percentage of our profit in beautiful initiatives. This way, we hope to become a new standard for Western countries.
On this page, you can find out about our artists; since you, by buying one of our products, automatically reinvest in its producer, we thought you might like to know who these humans are. Scroll down for the closest we could get to a meet & greet!
In Lupane Women’s Centre the women are trained to become successful entrepreneurs at the same time they earn a living to support their families through weaving home accessories. There are currently 2667 women linked to the centre. At Lupane the women find support, not only economically, but also socially.
Chris Silverston was born in South Africa and educated in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Having family ties in the UK, she came over to study art at a college in the Midlands, but missing her African roots returned to Cape Town in her early twenties.
Chris started pottery classes as a hobby and fell completely in love with the medium because of its balance of functionality and beauty. Also being drawn to a world of colour and pattern, she was an initiator in the new medium of underglazes that were breaking ground at that time.
In 1986 Chris founded the Potter’s Shop in Kalk Bay, selling glazes, contemporary ceramics and holding bi-annual exhibitions. In 1991 the Potter’s Studio was opened above the shop, where people could come and paint their own plates. This evolved into a design studio with women artists doing the painting, the most well known at the time being Tiffany Wallace. Theo Ntunwana, followed by Majolandile Dylvane who joined the Potter’s Studio and this seemed to strike a chord in the market place.
Against tradition, Chris trained up Xhosa men with no creative background, providing a safe secure environment, where they could develop their painting skills. She helped these artisans create their distinctive style of tactile, bead-like painting on ceramics, for which The Potter’s Workshop has become renowned.
Trends to help her team evolve their sophisticated style but with family links, Chris travels widely and uses her knowledge of global design contemporary African range of functional ceramics.
Presently we have a staff complement of 23, of which twelve are artists and have become a cohesive collaborative multi cultural team.
The Zienzele Foundation works in some of the poorest villages in Zimbabwe. Through basket-making and other projects, their women’s groups earn money to help support themselves and care for almost 1,000 orphans. We have imported their breathtaking woven placemats.
Their products are fashioned from the wood of dead Sisal trees, which grow in abundance, in the Karoo. Sisal wood is light and robust, and is suitable for both interior and exterior use. The shape, form and cost of each product, is determined by nature, and thus, each piece is truly an original work of organic art.
The highly decorative Swazi Candles are hand-made in the small African Kingdom of Swaziland using the age-old technique “millefiore”.
Millefiore, or “thousand flowers”, first surfaced in ancient Alexandria, but was perfected in the great glassmaking cities of Murano and Venice. Glass beads and other objects created there were of such beauty and finesse that they became much sought-after and valuable artifacts.
On the African coast, these Venetian trade beads were used as a form of currency to barter for gold and ivory. So popular did they prove that the North and West Africans came to make their own variation. Thus was born the African trade bead, rare and sought-after by collectors to this day.
The art of millefiore continues today in Swazi Candles. But instead of glass, the gifted candle makers of Swaziland use a special hard wax to create their colourful designs. The hard wax veneer forms the outer shell of the candle, which hardly melts when the candle is lit. Hence the rich, romantic glow of the illuminated exterior as the candle burns, and the burn-again quality when refitted with the votive or tea candle. (Mini sizes do not burn in this manner, yet retain their intrinsic value as works of Swazi craft.)
Weya art in Zimbabwe is dominated by female artists. The artists use various mediums that include applique, sadza paintings and embroidery to create unique, colourful works.
It originated in the 1980’s in rural Chiendambuya in Rusape and takes its name from the Weya Community Training Centre founded by Amon Shonge from Germany.
Kai comes from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, where he lives with his wife and children. He makes the most amazing things from old bean cans. His most famous product are the spectacular golden trees, which can grow up to one meter. Making these trees is a very labor-intensive proces. Getting the cans into the right shapes by punching them repeatedly and weaving the tree with iron wires.
These gorgeous glass pieces are made wholly from bottles that would otherwise have been thrown away. Their characteristic patterns are sandblasted on by hand, giving the products that authentic, unique feel. Never has beautiful glass been this environmentally-friendly!