Threading Tales

Featured image: lobolile xima + front (blue), kishwepi sitole + front (red), beauty ndlovu + front (black)
All images from Design Boom – view more and individual credits here.

The Siyazama Project is an artisan’s collective that provides the renowned craftswomen of rural KwaZulu-Natal with opportunities to sell their works in fair trade environments.  Meanwhile, they host workshops that provide education about HIV/AIDS.  Their goal is to see that all craftswomen and their families make it through the AIDS epidemic unscathed.  Siyazama partnered with Swedish design collective Front to create “Story Vases.”  The show was presented by Editions in Craft at Milan Design Week.


Last November in a workshop in Durban, South Africa, each participant wrote out her hopes, dreams, and maybe a bit of her life story.  Next, they brought them to life via beads strung around vase-shaped molds.  When complete, glassblower Reino Björk filled the space with beautiful blown glass vessels.

Glass blowing

Many of these women rarely get to tell their stories – much less on a world stage.  Five of those stories made their way to Milan for Design Week.

Story vases in process

I shared three of the narratives below – see them all here.  You can also see Siyazama’s full collection here.

Beauty Ndlovu’s story:
my name is beauty. when I was young I dreamt of my own house. I used to draw houses,
and I wanted to become a decorator. now I have built my own house. I have three children, and I am happy to have taught them how to make beads, so they can make their own income

Beauty's Vase

Lobolile Ximba’s story:
I already made plans for the future. if I would get a life threatening illness, I have signed up for legal wise. this will give me legal advice, handicap coverage for my family and a wheel chair if necessary. my dream was to get married and to own a motorcar.’

Lobolile Ximba's Vase

Kishwepi Sitole’s story:
the one bad thing my husband did was take another wife. he stays at my house some days, other days he is with his other wife. some days are not good and I am not satisfied, but other days I just don’t care and just let things be. I am not accepting it, but I didn’t have a choice.’

Kishwepi Sitole's Vase

This entry was published on April 12, 2011 at 15:28. It’s filed under Look, Read, World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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