Vases With a Real Story: By Way of South Africa and Sweden

Vases With a Real Story: By Way of South Africa and Sweden

Michelle Chin
Apr 26, 2011

The project began with conversations between a collective of women artisans in South Africa and Swedish designers. The topics included recounts of the women's daily lives, their husbands and children. Love, life and death. The effects of HIV, poverty, gender inequality and unemployment on their society. And now these stories are literally written into the beadwork.

The collaboration between Front in Sweden and the Siyazama Project for Editions in Craft is a traditional artistic outlet for the women of South Africa to use Zulu bead craft to let the world hear their rarely told and more often unheard histories.

The construction process is centered around the threading of glass beads onto wire. Once a story is laid out in beads around a vase-shaped mold, they are sent to Front and the glass is blown into the beadwork, forcing the hot glass to conform to the confines of the stories that encapsulate it.

By no means inexpensive (I've seen unconfirmed prices of over $1,000 per vase), it's still a wonderful way to help raise up the communities in the remote villages in KwaZulu-Natal if you happen to have that kind of money at your disposal. It's such a fascinating idea for a great cause, that I thought it to be inspirational at the very least.

(Image: Design Front)

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