This week we're featuring one of our newest producers - Shaw Sisters, a design company making high quality handmade goods from South Africa. We talked to co-founder Angela Shaw about Durban and the artisans who make the eye popping color block wooden spoons. Check out some photos of the painting process below!
What drew you to set up your design studio in Durban?
Angela: I was born in Durban and my family are here. After many years of traveling and living in other places I found a renewed love and appreciation for its culture and way of life. It has the highest number of traditional crafts in South Africa, including basket weaving, wood carving, beading and ceramics, plus many more.
How has Shaw Sisters transformed the lives of artisans based in Durban?
It is difficult to quantify. We only develop, market and sell products that are hand made – believing that mass produced and corporate products are well represented already. If an individual, emerging designer, craftsman/woman or small business can generate an income themselves another part of the economy can thrive. The global recession and the high unemployment rates in South Africa require that individuals can be empowered rather than rely on the state for support that is not there.
Shaw Sisters employs two people full time in the workshop, plus we commission work from five local crafting groups. Some of these are organized, others are individuals we have found with skills in crochet, weaving, carving, origami and glass blowing.
What is the process of painting these wooden utensils?
They are sprayed with catalyzed lacquer using a spray gun and compressor. This gives them a tough hardened finish that is very durable- and in any colour!
Finally, what is your favorite part of working in Durban?
Durban is an African city at the sea. It also has the biggest Indian population outside of India. It’s dynamic, diverse and a culturally rich place that is constantly evolving. I swim in the warm Indian ocean at least once a week and work with incredible people making beautiful things. What’s not to like?