Friday, 28 November 2008

"Isn't this thing beautiful?!"

'Lokhu Kuhle'.... means just that... 'Lokhu' (pronounced 'lawkoo') is Zulu for 'this thing' and 'Kuhle'... (roughly pronounced as 'Gooshleh') means beautiful/good/well and all things great..

These are from the newest range of numberplate bangles produced by Sithokoze and myself, and can be 'acquired' from my Etsy shop , or, if you live in South Africa, contact me on my e-mail address, which is chrisdb{at}dutDOTacDOTza

Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Numberplate bangles

These are bangles type cuffs that are made from recycled numberplates. They have sayings stamped onto them and these sayings change from time to time. The current ones say 'Black and White' which has a lot of connotations here in KwaZulu Natal, where I live. Our local rugby team, the Sharks, wear black and white, the people here are black and white, and I think, we all wish things were a bit more 'black and white'....

Dominic (my assistant) translates the sayings into Zulu. So there are an equal amount of bangles with the Zulu equivalent, being ' Omnyama nomhlope' stamped onto them. These bangles are avilable in my etsy shop and can be customised, i.e. different words can be put on.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


Dominic helps me with the production of the whitewall jewels. He finds the rubber cutters and then collects the strips from them after they've been cut. We then develop prototypes together and he then makes the 'jewels'.

Here he sits with the latest batch of keyrings that we are marketing on Etsy.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Selling rubber

These keyrings are made from the off-cuts of the sandal straps. I vist Mr. Dlamini every now and then and then buy these bits of tyre.

The jump rings are stainless steel and are pretty difficult to make but Dominic helps me. His proper names are Sithokoze Thulebone Cele...

Anyway... the keyrings are on sale in my Etsy shop, along with some other items of jewellery.

As soon as I have stock there will also be some rubber bangles.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


In other words 'sandals'... This is a picture of a Zulu sandal which was made from car tyres. The sole is made from the tread and the straps are made from the sides where the whitewall stripe is. The previous post shows how the pattern is carved.

I spent a day with Mr. Dlamini when he was making this particular sandal. These pictures show part of the process. I buy all his off-cuts and use these for making keyrings and bangles. These should feature in my Etsy shop soon.

The next pic shows a little kitten that was inspecting them. Then there is one of the sandal edges and straps being nailed on and the last one shows Mr. Dlamini cutting off the points of the nails that stick out the bottom.

Friday, 10 October 2008

The layers we work with...

The whitewall tyres are used because the white stripe actually continues underneath the black and when one cuts through the black the white is exposed.

This drawing, which was done by Bonginkosi Tshabalala as part of his research for his B.Tech at Durban University of Technology, illustrates the process beautifully.

The arrow points at the black part of the tyre that is used. The blocks on the top right hand side are examples of some of the patterns that are cut.

In the next post I will show some more examples of such patterns.

Saturday, 04 October 2008

What is really underneath...

I've had a lot of interaction with Zulu sandalmakers and am fascinated with the rubber straps that they use for making their sandals. These straps are carved from old, discarded whitewall tyres. These tyres are used mainly by the local taxis, of which there are plenty.

I would like to show the background to these rubber strips and all the ins and outs of how they are produced. Naturally, being a jeweller/designer I am continually searching for ways in which to use this intriguing material so there will be a steady stream of products that are based on or made from these elaborately carved straps.

But first.... a taxi. Note the white stripes on the tyres. The next post will show the structure of the tyre..

Friday, 04 July 2008

Philippa Green

Philippa is one of the success stories of the department. Here she is standing in front of a showcase of her work at her new workshop in Waal street in Cape Town.

A typical creative's workbench...

Table Mountain in the background.

Africa Nova

I popped in to see the jewellery that was on display in Africa Nova and was pleasantly surprised to see that no less than 5 of the department's graduates work was on display. This pic shows work by Marlene de Beer (rings), Philippa Green (perspex cuffs) and Jane McIlleron (silver patterned bracelet).

The other two are Leigh Clark and Nicola Savage (earrings)

Lions Head

I've just spent my annual busman's holiday in Cape Town, teaching Gemmology to the CPUT 3rd year students. Trying to get some exercise in Cape Town can be tricky as the weather plays a big role in the winter. John Skotnes and I walked up Lion's Head one afternoon just before the rain came. This pic shows John with Devil's Peak in the background.

Artisan Exhibition

A whole group of lecturers and graduates from the jewellery design department at DUT are participating in this exhibition. The ones I can remember offhand are; Marlene de Beer, Samantha Vincent, Michelle Pujol, Perusha Naidoo, Genevieve Motley, Barbra Rishworth and Leigh Clark... The pics show some of my pieces...

These are silver earrings with rolled paper texture that I developed for my MA at Stellenbosch. They are displayed on top of embossed and patinated fine silver plates...

The necklace is made from largish white seedbeads, as used by the local Zulu ladies, with silver jump rings on the tips. The stitch is the 'euphorbia' stitch and is a traditional Zulu stitch. I'm not sure that is the traditional Zulu name though...

The dragonfly brooch/earring is made from silver wire and has developed a golden patina from years of hanging on my office wall. I made a range of titanium dragonflies for my master's... must show some of them..

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Visit to Dalton Road

Bongi and I went to Dalton Road, which is where there is a whole community of Zulu craftsmen that produce traditional dress for dancers. Here Bongi is talking to Mr. Nxumalo, who specialises in making shields.