Meet the Crafters

The Heartfelt Project

The first project I supported, and which is very close to my heart is THE HEARTFELT PROJECT – a job creation and skills development project, using traditional handcraft skills to create Heartfelt products designed predominantly out of felt and beading. Together, Martha and Julie started this project to create job opportunities for unemployed women in the rural community of Makapanstad. This empowers not only the lives of these women, but is also for the good of the community as a whole.

Today these handcrafted items are sold within South Africa and internationally. There are now ten women employed by the Heartfelt project. Every day they come to work full of pride and hope, creating each Heartfelt design out of love, and strongly believing that they can make a difference - not only to their own lives but to the lives of the community in which they live. Each heart sold by the Heartfelt project helps to feed and clothe these women and their families.

It also gives back to the community by donating a small portion to a local charity to help fight TB, HIV/AIDS and provide for children and older men and woman in Makapanstad. Its aim is to heal the hearts of people who don't have the opportunities we have on a daily basis, and to fill not only the women's hearts, but those of many others with hope.

Karoo Angels

The angel ‘factory’ consists of two branches, Vondeling Optel Craft and Rietbron Craft, and under the name of Karoo Angels the two craft groups make the angels that fly to other places, other countries, and other cultures.

 Vondeling Optel Craft was initiated in 2006 as a community upliftment project sponsored by the Sarah Baartman District Municipality. They appointed Craftpartner, consisting of Gardi Oosthuizen and Hannelie Herselman. This two-woman team set up and trained the crafters and after thorough training and testing, the idea of a tiny angel was born. This angel was made of meticulously hand-knitted wire, adorned with clear beads and sequins, with a pair of tiny feet peeking out from underneath her dress…and so angel Justine was born. She is still a beloved member of the Karoo Angels’ family.

Later, Kjersti Lie Holtar, from Isandi in Oslo came on board looking into various Christmas products for the Scandinavian market. She suggested an angel made from locally-sourced ostrich feathers for Christmas decorations and so, in 2008, Levona, an ostrich feather angel, was created.

Today the two groups operate as a co-op. Most of the households in the communities are, in one way or another, involved in the production of the angels, and the activity has indeed contributed to the visible regeneration of the community. A lot of identity is built into each of the angels; they each belong to the community in which they were created. This is still how things are kept today – the two branches of Karoo Angels make their own range of angels, with their names reflecting their communities.

Hippo Studio

Hippo Studio, a small business based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, produces hand crafted ceramics ranging from dinnerware, tableware to homeware.  Every piece is a celebration of Africa’s landscapes and character and completely unique.  The studio takes enormous pleasure in being able to nurture the creative talents of local artists and artisans and provides a safe place to work and build new skills.  The artists hand-sign each piece they decorate, giving them pleasure and pride in their work.  The work is not complete without the skilled hands of the potter, moulder, kiln packer, the glazer and stock controller.  We use high quality, imported white earthenware clay and approved glazes and our products are food safe, non-toxic, microwave and dishwasher friendly.  For us, every customer becomes a part of the Hippo Studio family, as they purchase a piece of Africa that is hand made with love.

Jacarandell African Carvings

Jacarandell African Carvings is a small co-operative, carving business, based on a farm near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

The three carvers at Jacarandell African Carvings create functional art from the heart of Africa, using mainly Jacaranda wood. Donald Sibanda is an expert at carving spoons, spatulas, salad servers and knives; Ndubeko Ndlovu is brilliant at African animals and bird decorations as well as doorstoppers and boards; and Brian Ndlovu skilfully carves boards of all types, door stoppers, nativity sets, and Christmas animals.

Frances Randell manages the business, which includes designing products, sourcing wood and other inputs, marketing, networking, and quality control. The carvers are paid per completed product, at a fairly negotiated price.

Zimbabwe is a country full of challenges and there have been many in their 25 years of operation where they nearly had to close. However, with grit and determination they have managed to continue.

We are very proud to introduce you to the creative design talent of Jacarandell. Their little animal carvings are individual and utterly unique.