Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oppi Stoep

How often do you encounter old-fashioned hospitality in our rushed, commercial world?
I was introduced to Oppi Stoep some time back when I went there to teach a course for Minimax ( a few months back. Oppi Stoep is a wedding and conference venue in Centurion, Pretoria. It also serves as a music school and home for the Wiegandt family. Since then, I have returned several times, to teach, to enjoy concerts, to network, and most recently, to shoot an episode of Pasella for SABC2.
I have never ever been there that I have not enjoyed a generous plate of home cooked food. Whatever you need, just say the word and it is laid on for you. There is always a hot urn going with coffee and tea. Next to it is a jug of fresh cool fruit juice if that is your preference.
Johan is a fabulous cook and I return there for his food every chance I get.
I also enjoy the sound of the voices and piano in the background when there is a singing lesson going on in the background. Ina Wiegandt teaches singing to a number of professional and amateur singers and she has a wealth of experience that she shares with a similar generosity.
They truly have a way of making a person feel at home. This is proven by the fact that their busy bed and breakfast is regularly fully booked with people who return again and again to their environment.
The garden is beautiful, with pool, footbridge, green lawns and shady corners where you can sit and relax when you need to get away from the bustle of the world. They take their name from the large, covered stoep where they do most of their entertaining. It can accomodate a large wedding party with ease and it is a handy back-up when you would like to entertain outdoors and the weather will not play along.
I was so relieved to have it available for the shoot last week. We planned most of it outside, and then on the day we had overcast weather with variable light. In the end we pulled the shoot in under the covered roof of the stoep so that we could get the shoot finished in time.
It is now a regular venue for my craft classes. With plenty of tables and chairs, I simply phone ahead and let Johan know how many people I am expecting, and when I get there everything is set up and ready for me to teach. With the tiled floor underfoot I am able to teach dyeing and printing without having to worry too much about the mess.
If you are looking for a warm, hospitable venue for your event, I can recommend Oppi Stoep in a heartbeat. Contact Johan for bookings at
Have a great day in full colour!
Kind regards

Friday, April 9, 2010

Raku Firing

If I had the time for a hobby, it would certainly be ceramic. As with colouring fabric, colouring clay can be unpredictable. I love the anticipation of not knowing until the end how my crafted item will actually look, and the surprise when I see that it is not what I expected it would be. This is the magical side of life!
Raku pots are baked in open firepits as opposed to the controlled environment of an electric kiln. Because of the wild process, the results are varied and unpredictable.

The CDP Trust is an NGO that I work with quite closely. At the centre they teach the most vulnerable people in our communities a variety of handcrafts in an attempt to give them skills that they can use, not only to express themselves and heal, but also to create products that they can sell for money.

They teach visual arts using every medium, from paint to fabric dye to clay. At their centre they pass on the skills of screenprinting, tie dye, lino printing, ceramic, beadwork and any other craft with income generation potential.

These crafts are also a powerful catalyst for healing. Many of the people who come to their centre have suffered extreme traumas on their journey through life. Through these creative processes, they make peace with their past and build a road to their future.

If you would like to support the efforts of the CDP Trust, why not sign up for a course and learn more about the magical Raku process? At the same time, your money will go back into the centre to upskill somebody else who can really benefit from new skills and a fresh chance at survival. Have some fun and support a worthy cause.

Have a great day in full colour!

Kind regards



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Every Girl Needs A Makeover...

Every girl needs a makeover once in awhile...

Being an intensely creative person with my own distinctive style of dressing and portraying myself to the world, I never imagined I would need the help of a Stylist. Lately, I have found myself more and more in the limelight through my writing and my work, and my coach suggested that I see one, to give my image an upgrade.

At first I was reluctant. Then I decided to give it a whirl anyway. I was so silly to resist. It was a fabulous experience!

I spent an afternoon with Brenda Khambule, where she taught me how to make the best of my features and enhance them in a way that suited my personality and lifestyle. She pampered me for a couple of hours, and I looked and felt great when I emerged from the room.

She advised me how to integrate the new tips and tricks into my daily routine so that it does not take me a whole lot of extra time to do what needs to be done. She helped me to understand what to buy and where. I was surprised to learn that I do not have to break the bank to look gorgeous. I imagined beforehand that she was going to push a lot of expensive products onto me that I did not need. This was simply not the case. She asked me questions about my challenges and lifestyle, and then advised me in terms of my specific requirements.

I felt thoroughly spoiled by the time she was done with me, and empowered to go out into the world with my best face forward.

Brenda offers courses on self-image and attitude, getting to understand your body shape and how best to enhance your best natural features, how to manage your wardrobe in terms of what to keep and what to throw out, nutrition, accessories and shopping.

I thought I knew how to do all those things myself. Brenda taught me a thing or two. If you would like to get in touch with her to make an appointment with a very "real" lady who is willing to share her wealth of experience, you can contact her at

I enjoyed the pampering the most. She really knows how to make a girl feel special.

Have a great day in full colour!

Kind regards



Monday, April 5, 2010

The Chinese Juggernaut Has Won!

Recently I had a conversation with somebody in the South African clothing industry who has decided that the local textile industry is dead. Dead...

I simply cannot accept that post mortem. Another well-known figure in our local fashion industry who cannot accept the statement is Collen Jack.

Colleen has many years of experience making patterns for the local fashion industry and has worked very closely with some of the most prolific designers on the local scene, including Clive Rundle (seen here in the picture).

I had a long and passionate discussion with Colleen on the topic this week and we are both trying feverishly to come up with an action plan to turn around this fatalistic way of thinking and to help to arm young designers in this country with the resilience and tools that they need to fight this global trend.

Certainly, the Chinese Juggernaut owns the lion's share of the textile markets globally. I was at the China City Market on the weekend and I can see why. There is an endless selection of clothing available at prices that we cannot hope to compete with locally. Finished garments are available for less than our labour cost on a similar garment manufactured here. Combined with the fact that most of our local textile mills have shut down under the mounting pressure, it is no small task that we are faced with to turn the tide.

Why do we believe that it can be done, when so many are ready to give in to the belief that it is all over with? Perhaps it is our independent spirit? Perhaps it is our belief in the underdog?

Look more closely at how the Chinese have come to own the market. They employ child labour in their factories. They work inhumanely long shifts without rest. They pay less than three dollars a day to their labourers. They do everything in their power to dodge import duties and taxes on goods.

In a world that is becoming more socially aware, how can dominance based on such dodgy practices continue indefinitely?

I make a conscious effort to buy local where I can, even when it costs me more, because I understand the underlying influences at play. If more and more people could do the same, we could certainly begin to turn the tide.

Colleen is working hard to do the same and she teaches young designers how to cost their production properly and squeeze the most value from their supply chain through frugal management so that they have a better chance at survival under mounting pressures. If you would like to learn more about her courses, you can contact her at

Become a part of the underground movement to fight the Chinese Juggernaut and buy locally manufactured products...

Have a great day in full colour!

Kind regards