Posts tagged ‘Zulu’
We just took delivery of some more beautiful creations from Ben.
Ben started weaving at the age of 28, in 2002. His previous job was as a bricklayer and he often had to leave his family for long periods of time to go to work on construction projects. He started weaving to earn an income and found that he thoroughly enjoyed it, experimenting with new designs, stitches and color combinations; he creates fascinating works of art. His designs and colors are inspired from patterns he sees in things around him … it could be something as simple as a newspaper ad or a piece of clothing that gives him an idea.
We first showed his work earlier this year and the reaction was great, so we knew that we should get some more pieces in as soon as we got the chance.
Here’s three of them (of course, they are available in our online store as well as at our location in downtown Springfield):
We’re thrilled to be hosting an exhibition of Ben’s work from July 3 to 31st, 2009 at Global Fayre in downtown Springfield, MO. THe exhibition has been made possible with the help of our friend Cael, at Baskets of Africa. ( a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation)
Ben started weaving at the age of 28, in 2002. His previous job was as a bricklayer and he often had to leave his family for long periods of time to go to work on construction projects. He started weaving to earn an income and found that he thoroughly enjoyed it, experimenting with new designs, stitches and color combinations; he creates fascinating works of art.
His designs and colors are inspired from patterns he sees in things around him … it could be something as simple as a newspaper ad or a piece of clothing that gives him an idea.
Ben works very differently to the other weavers; rather than working to a prescribed pattern and shape, he is encouraged to create designs of his choosing, with his preferred size of bowl being 16 inches in diameter.
The exhibition will open during the First Friday Art Walk on July 3rd, from 6pm to 10pm.
Here are some of Ben’s beautiful creations:
We just added two more beautiful baskets to our online store.
They are Zulu Ilala Palm African Baskets, handcrafted in the northeastern coastal area of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. All-natural fibers, materials and dyes are used to construct these unique treasures. Most of the people in this region are subsistence farmers and live in their traditional Kraals, an area fenced in by piles of sticks that contain their traditional huts.
Ilala palm fronds are collected, pulled into strips, naturally dyed and then hung to dry as the traditional Zulu women prepare their materials for basket-weaving. The palm fronds have a waxy coating which makes them ideal for the weaving of watertight baskets.
The age-old tradition of basket weaving is usually passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. Some young girls begin learning the art of weaving as young as age 9. Many are able to put themselves all the way through school, supported solely on the proceeds of their basket sales.
Different patterns on the African baskets also carry different meanings (see list below). The larger baskets are traditionally woven by the bride-to-be or given to the new couple as wedding gifts. During the Zulu wedding the baskets will be used to hold ceremonial beer and they are sometimes called ‘beer baskets’ for that reason. Prior to its first use, the basket’s pores are closed from the inside with a paste of coarsely-ground corn. The more elaborate designs and intricately- patterned baskets denote the relative wealth and power of the family. An elaborate, medium-sized basket may take 30 days to weave.
These two baskets are referred to as Ukhambas (lid fits inside the top, cork-like) and they are actually watertight. The alternative type is known as Isichumo (lid fits over the top, jar-like). Smaller baskets with lids or Iquthu often have a looser weave and are traditionally used to store medicinal herbs. Open bowls or Isiquabetho and Iqoma are used to store nuts, grains, fruits or vegetables while flatter baskets or Mbenges are used as tops to clay jars or open top African baskets.
Here’s what the patterns mean:
Triangle — A masculine symbol
Diamond — A feminine symbol
Double Triangle — Marriage, man
Double Diamond — Marriage, woman
Zig-Zag — Masculine, represents the spear of Shaka, the leader of the Zulu people
Series of Diamonds — Feminine, represents the shields of Shaka
Checkerboards, Whirls or Circles — Good news, new baby, good rains, plentiful harvest
Points Around the Outside — Shows the number of cattle paid as bridewealth (Lobola)
And here’s how the different colors are achieved:
Cream — This is the natural color of the dried ilala palm fronds.
Pink/Lilac — Comes from boiling the palm fibers for a day with the leaves of a certain shrub.
Brown/Black — These most popular colors are attained using the roots of trees from river banks.
Golden Brown — Comes from four hours of boiling with the root of a special shrub-like plant.
Coral — Mixing aloe roots with the same roots that produce the pink colors makes up this color.
Purple/Blue — Boiling for four hours with the skins from a particular ripe berry produces this color.
Grey — The palm fronds are soaked in a black sludge of mud with a high iron content for one week.
Orange — The roots of a small hairy-leafed plant is boiled with the palm fibers for several hours.
Yellow/Mustard — Palm fronds are soaked in a wood ash paste then boiled for seven hours.
Green — Soaking in fresh cow dung overnight then boiling for several hours tints the palm fronds green.
Light Red — Bark and leaves are crushed together and the ilala fibers are boiled in the mixture for two days.
We just got a fresh consignment of Zulugrass from the Leakey Foundation.
Based in The Rift Valley Kenya, East Africa, The Leakey Collection founders Katy and Philip Leakey, combine their talents in interior design and the arts with their love of nature to develop stunning handcrafted products for an international market. Using natural elements such as fallen wood, grass and porcelain, these renowned designers create unique products while protecting the environment and providing economic opportunity to the local communities.
You can read more about the history of the Masai and the birth of Zulugrass jewelry here.
The women harvest the grass, one blade at a time. The long grass is dried and cut into bead-size pieces and dyed lovely hues – blues, greens, reds, yellows, pinks, purples, earth and natural tones – which are then strung into necklaces and bracelets. Brilliant Czech glass beads are added, mixing them with the soft luster of the grass beads and giving sparkle and a contemporary flair to the jewelry. That’s how Zulugrass is born!
We’ll be adding Zulugrass to our online store over the next few days.
First Friday will be here very soon – and we can’t wait!
We always look forward to First Friday Art Walk; it’s great having so many people downtown, everyone having a good time, all the galleries full to the brim. But this time we’re more excited than usual.
It started last week – we took delivery of a consignment of fantastic Zulu baskets. Some are traditional weave, others are a wonderful combination of the old and the new – baskets woven traditionally but using telephone wire. Vibrant colors, wonderful shapes and patterns – just outstanding. They were so wonderful that we couldn’t resist putting them out on show ahead of time (well, some of them – you have to hold something back for First Friday, right?!).
But these baskets are not the only reason for our excitement. We have live music again this month, this time from someone who has been a friend to Global Fayre pretty much since we first opened. Alexander Kofi (of Jah Kings) will be playing acoustic guitar and Djimbe drum. We’re really thrilled to have our friend here on Friday – it’s going to be an awesome evening!