A few weeks ago I was walking around a market in Johannesburg. It was the perfect African Winter’s afternoon. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, and only a slightly chilly breeze gave us the sign that the seasons had changed. The time spent being outdoors and talking to artisans about their crafts and creative processes is something I really relish. It was on one such perfect afternoon that I came across The Bead House.
The Bead House was founded in 2007 by a team of Zimbabwean designers and artisans. They produce the most exquisitely detailed pictures of the plants and animals in the African bush using glass beads. Each tiny bead is painstakingly pasted onto wood to create intricate patterns and designs. The team uses distinctive ShweShwe fabrics as well as upcycled wood to frame their creations. My favourite pictures are those that incorporate the black sea sand from Qunu in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Qunu is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, giving the art works a local flavor while still keeping its pan-African appeal. The Bead House evolved from a passion project to a business that provides job opportunities for the creative talents and skills of unemployed asylum seekers. The team is able to produce artworks of various sizes, and over the years, have completed several commissioned pieces for corporate and private collections. Each piece is a once-off creation and totally unique.
The Bead House reminds Africanismo of many of the things we love most about this continent – the amazing beauty you can find in the most unexpected places; the warm hearts and helpful hands that grow and develop talent; and the natural splendor of our environment. I left the market that day, as the sun was setting, feeling grateful that I get to call this place home (and that I only needed a light jersey to survive the cold)!
Click here to shop The Bead House’s collection of artworks.