telephone wire baskets from south africa
Fair Trade Practices
Over 650 full time weavers and their families are supported with a fair living wage from their amazing creations. Since wire baskets are done mostly by men due to the difficult nature of weaving wire, the men are able to stay home on their tribal lands instead of moving to cities to look for work. In the rural groups we work with, the family units are preserved so that the weavers and their families can live more traditional lifestyles, fashioning baskets from the native plants and grasses of their homeland as well as for their intricate and culturally important beadwork.
Zulu Wire Baskets
The original idea to use recycled telephone wire for baskets reportedly came from security workers on the graveyard shift in South African factories. To while away the hours, they would often wind and weave brightly colored bits of telephone wire around their nightsticks.
Weaving of these baskets from the top down and over a form makes them even more unusual. Most baskets are woven from the bottom up. These inventive weavers start with a thick wire at the top rim of the basket and then work their way down, pulling each wire taut against a form to create the basket’s shape. The group we work with has invented several new stitches that they weave with and are constantly evolving their styles. These unique baskets are especially functional and can be washed in warm soapy water.
About The Wire
Recycled wire is rarely used anymore because of its scarcity and the fact that using recycled wire produces a basket of lesser quality.Due to the very high price of copper, which is used in telephone wire, some groups are experimenting with using an annealed steel core wire. The wire we use is custom manufactured in special colors for the weavers in the most eco-friendly and lead-free materials. The wire is manufactured in South Africa.