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Coveted Crafts

Posted on: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Blog Category: Arts & Crafts

By Katie McCarthy, Click here to read Katie’s other blogs

Not your typical tourist tat! Think Swazi-designed knitwear seen on the runway of Aquascutum at London Fashion week, quirky home-wear exported around the world and truly unique accessories to earn you some serious traveller-chic cred. What’s more, it’s all fair trade, so you and your bargains can sleep easy.

Swaziland has a high-concentration of innovative, quality crafts in a small surface area – making it the perfect destination for a weekend (or more) of craft shopping. A good route would be to come in via the Ngwenya/Oshoek Border Post (just 4 hrs from Gauteng on excellent tar roads), stopping in at the Ngwenya Glass complex for lunch and your first craft stop, before staying  in the Kingdom’s main tourist hub; the Ezulwini Valley.  This aptly-named ‘Valley of Heavens’ is a great base from which to explore the majority of Swaziland’s craft hot-spots.

Most of those mentioned below have outlets within one of the following craft centres:  Ngwenya Glass,Yebo! SwazilandSwazi Candles and House on Fire - so if you’re short on time these come recommended.  A rummage through the many local markets, Indigilizi Gallery in Mbabane and a trip to the craft centres around Pigg’s Peak are also good options for those with a little more time.

Baobab Batik

Blending the age-old batik method with contemporary design, must-have items include infinity scarves, tote bags and cushions.

Contact: +268 2528 3242 / info@baobab-batik.com / Stockists /Website

Golden Hands

Off-the-peg or custom-made 100% cotton knitwear in various styles and colours. How about this natural 100% Cotton jacket as featured in Aquascutum’s S/S 2012 runway at London Fashion Week? This was the product of  a collaboration between Golden Hand’s master knitter Doreen Mapasure and Philippa Reiss Thorne. Hats and scarves are available at Gone Rural’s outlet in House on Fire, but to order a bespoke jacket/item of clothing contact Doreen:

Contact: + 268 7642 6244  / Facebook

Gone Rural

Pick-up stunning high-quality homewear such as intricate baskets and placemats to wow your visitors – view featured fashion showcase of the ‘Rural-to-Ramp’ collection pieces. The new Song of the weaver designer homewear collection was launched in London in January, and takes inspiration from three generations of weavers from one Swazi family. Each item is truly meaningful, tells a unique story and provides the artist with a source of income.

All Gone Rural items are hand-made by over 760 Swazi women – providing a vital source of employment, and preserving traditional techniques and culture.

Contact: + 268 2550 4836 / contactus@gonerural.co.sz /Buy Online / Website

 

 
Jerem Paul

Directed by Swazi father and son team; Paul Msweli and Khulekani Msweli, this brand  is driven by a passion for contemporary art resulting in avant-guard fashion and furniture. Khulekani himself trained in London as an Assistant Designer for Marios Schwab! Be sure to stop into his store at ‘Yebo! Swaziland’ to pick up a cute shopper or some inspired lighting for your home. While there, don’t miss out on the quirky Eswatini fabric, local wood and pottery items.

Contact: +268 2416 1670 (Ext. 142) / jerempaulstore@gmail.com / Facebook

Ngwenya Glass

Hand-blown, recycled glass in both traditional and quirky designs. Glasswear is exported worldwide and some of my favourite items include Nelson bowls for your yacht or glasses for the beach. Also onsite are various craft outlets, a restaurant,  play area for children and a chocolate shop. Don’t miss the Amurala Truffles. TO DIE FOR.

Contact: +268 2442 4053/2442 4142/2442 4151 / Website

Quazi Design

Recycled paper jewelry. Yes, you heard me right!  But great design, great cause, great price and great for pressies! Did I mention they’re great? There should be a tiger in this sentence.

Contact: +268) 2422 0193 / info@quazidesign.com / Website

Rosecraft

A medley of contemporary design, traditional methods and all-natural fibres encapsulates the essence of Rosecraft’s hand-made accessories and home-wear items. Think mohair, organically grown cotton, bamboo, wool and silk scarves and throws.

Contact: Website / Stockists
 
Swazi Candles

Candles in all shapes, colours and sizes made from the age-old millefiore technique. Designs include quirky candles in the shape of Swazi wildlife and crops such as Corn to more contemporary styles. Rosecraft, Baobab Batik & Amarasti outlets can also be found within this complex, in addition to skilled wood-carvers.  Grab a bite at the on-site Sambane Coffee Shoppe while there.

Contact: Website
 

 Swazi Silversmith
Currently housed at the Mantenga Craft & Lifestyle Centre in Ezulwini (possible re-location soon), the Swazi Silversmith offers custom-designed silver and gold jewelry in addition to  ready-made sterling silver pendants, bracelets and rings. If you’ve picked up a gem or memento on your travels which you’d like to convert into a necklace, earrings or ring this is the place to go.  Also found within the centre is Acan Masuku’s out-of-this-world wooden carvings, and Khazimula’s pizza – a great spot for lunch on a nice day.

Contact: +268 2416 1136 / mantenga@rawafrica.com / Mantenga Falls Rd, Ezulwini, Swaziland

Tintsaba

Beautiful handmade products centered around the use of Sisal, a sustainable natural weed that grows wild in Swaziland. Tinsaba’s Signature Collection represents the finest woven sisal baskets and refined Sisal and Silver Jewellery, and is created by Master Weavers and Silversmiths.

 Contact: Website / Contact / Stockists

 

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