As we told you last week, Streetwires has collaborated with Le Creuset to produce all the Christmas decorations that will be brightening up all 18 of our stores throughout South Africa. This homegrown success story deserves a closer look…
In the early to mid-1990s, economic refugees from Zimbabwe started selling rather rudimentary wire art on street corners as an innovative solution to unemployment. In 2000, when Patrick Schofield first saw a working wire-art radio being sold at the side of the road, he was inspired to get together with Anton Ressel and Zimbabwean wire artist Winston Rangwanwe to form a garage business, which they registered formally in 2002. Since these humble beginnings, Streetwires has grown and thrived. The first team of artists was Zimbabwean, but these days its 60-strong staff complement includes South African artists who’ve learnt their trade at Streetwires.
While these 3-D artworks have naïve appeal, there is a sophisticated process behind producing these mini-masterpieces. First, shapers carefully construct the heavier-duty wire frame. Highly skilled binders then bind the frame with thinner wire – this requires precision and an eye for neatness. Then it is time for spindling, which is when beads are strung together in the exact order required to achieve the colourful patterning – not as easy as it looks (particularly when making things like the striped candy canes you’ll find in our Le Creuset stores this Christmas).
Streetwires’ head sample artist Artwell Munenura perfected an ingenious spindling device that has liberated the women who spindle from the tedious process of having to pick up each tiny bead individually and allows them to spindle metres and metres of beads at a time. His design? A block of wood with a wire spike, a plastic cooldrink bottletop with a hole drilled through it, a plastic bowl and the outside casing of a Bic pen. How clever is that?
Plastering is the last stage, which is when the strings of beads are applied to the wire frame. Extra adornments – like the holly leaves and berries on our Christmas puds and candy canes – are the perfect finishing touch.
Check out streetwires.co.za to see its full range and to read more about this inspiring project, which really does live up to its motto: ‘People! Passion! Pride!’