From a friend's request to recognition of wood-working artistry

2012-01-12 00:00

A COLLEAGUE’S request to make a box for his wife to keep her brushes and paints in has opened the door for Innocent Ndlela to showcase his woodworking skills.

Ndlela, who works with artisan Rob Scott at Museum Services in Prince Alfred Street, made the first box at the request of Kim Lee who wanted the gift for his wife, and has since sold many more of these artists’ boxes.

The sales came about after Ndlela’s girlfriend mentioned that his first one looked remarkably like a box she’d seen at the home of her employer, artist Nicola Crawford, in Hilton. “She [girlfriend] asked me if she could take it to her employer and her employer loved it. She told my girlfriend it was much nicer than the one she had,” the Mpumuza resident said.

Ndlela, who used offcuts of Oregon pine to make his first box, has been slowly refining the design. “I’ve made the divisions in the box higher, so that the paints and brushes don’t get mixed when you close it.”

Ndlela plans to make at least 10 more in the coming weeks, knowing that his day job will soon be keeping him very busy. Ndlela and Scott are currently working on a number of pro- jects for Museum Services, including recreating the wooden trail and cheeks for an antique artillery piece fired at King Cetshwayo KaMpande’s coronation in July 1873. These artillery pieces were the first in the world to be breach loaded — and of the six that remain in the world two are in Pietermaritzburg.

Ndlela, who has worked at Museum Services since 1991, says that being able to work with Scott has been key to helping him try new things.

“Since Rob came, he has encouraged me to do my own work and has given me the chance to spread my wings.”

 

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