Funky and fresh gifts

2012-11-29 00:00

IT’S the festive season and inevitably thoughts turn to gifts for friends and family. With that in mind, why not visit The Witness Craft Bazaar and choose something unique, unusual and quirky.

From November 29 to December 3, some of the province’s best crafters will be showcasing their wares at the bazaar in the Edgars Court at the Liberty Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg.

The crafts on offer range from the famous Magwaza pots from Nkandla to stunning beadwork, wire work, scoobie wire bracelets, bangles and necklaces, and beautiful handbags, as well as a new collection of tie-dye clothing and tablecloths, beaded cushion covers, table mats and hand-painted items.

Among this year’s exhibitors are Rootz Creationz, a developmentally based business operating in the Valley of 1 000 Hills, and Trisch Odell, who has been working with young prison inmates in Pietermaritzburg for the past nine years.

Odell said that, while working with the prisoners on a fabric-painting project, one of the young men, Fanah, showed a real aptitude for needlework. “I decided to create designs for him to showcase his skills and we have been working towards showing his work at the bazaar,” she added.

Odell’s New Prison craft project offers more than the chance to express creativity. She sees her work as a chance to teach young people, who attend her classes on Monday mornings, life skills. Art is simply a way to help get the message across.

Odell’s charges have created a range of items for the bazaar, such as tea cosies, Christmas decorations (including ice-cream cones, cupcakes and houses) and a range of household items, from felt and fabric to some jewellery.

Rootz Creationz, meanwhile, will be showcasing one of their newest products at the bazaar: shoes made from shweshwe fabric.

Carey Moran, who runs the business, said the changes in the global economy and increasing competition from cheap imports had created challenges for people working in the handcraft sector.

“Costs have increased significantly, while the market is resistant to paying more for the same item, especially given that gift items are non-essentials,” she said.

“I see innovation as a key ingredient in navigating our future success and stability and am currently involved in working towards aligning Rootz work with the green economy …. [we need to] protect our planet, as well as grow job opportunities for the many unemployed people in our associate communities. Turning waste into interesting products is a challenge, but an opportunity too.

“For our range of shweshwe sandals, we are collaborating with skills that exist in our local economy by partnering with a professional footwear producer. It is another innovative step we have made in ensuring that we supply products that are funky and fresh, but ultimately functional.”

In addition to the shoes, the company will be showcasing a range of Christmas ornaments, Scooby wire keyrings and brooches, jewellery items from its grass weaving project in the Drakensberg, and a range of recycled gift products.

“We at Rootz have been working for 20 years in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, producing colourful creative handcraft that reflects the creative spirit of Africa. We have displayed and sold our work at The Witness Craft Bazaar for many years and it has provided us with a great platform to share our work with the public.”

• For more information about Rootz, phone Carey Moran at 031 765 3556 or 072 180 5401.

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