An Honest Living: Holiday Edition

by | Dec 14, 2010 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Markets/Shopping | 6 comments

If you’re a regular 2Summers reader, you know by now that I’m a big fan of South African street art.

For the last few weeks, the bead guys have really stepped up their game, cranking out all kinds of holiday-themed creations and other generally cool stuff. I’ve been looking for photo ops but have discovered that photographing wire bead art is extremely difficult. It’s always displayed in the middle of a busy sidewalk, with cars parked in the background and people constantly tramping by.

Plus, when I — an American woman with a camera — convey even the slightest hint of interest in a display of bead art, I am immediately engulfed by eager salesmen shoving beaded animals in my face. It’s hard to capture anything photographically under such circumstances. This is an especially serious obstacle on 7th Street in Melville, a bead artist hotbed.

But today, during a late afternoon shopping trip in the nearby neighborhood of Parkview, I finally got my chance.

Parkview is a little quieter than Melville and has only one resident bead artist as far as I can tell — a young man named Felix. Like all of the bead artists I’ve met, Felix is a talented, well-spoken Zimbabwean. Under different circumstances he would probably be a bank manager or a web developer, but life has brought him to this piece of sidewalk on Tyrone Avenue.

That’s Felix in the white hat.

I took several shots of Felix’s work and was eventually convinced to buy my first South African Christmas decoration, a small beaded reindeer.

We finished chatting with Felix and went into the Fruiterer for some supplies. When we came back out, I stopped to take a couple more shots. Another man quietly approached me and asked if I wanted to see what he was selling.

‘I’m not buying anything,’ I said. He nodded patiently and rooted through his bag.

His name was Lovemore and he makes these beautiful paper cards. He sells them for R10 each. I bought two — this one and another one with an elephant on it.

How could I not?

Lovemore is also from Zimbabwe and looking forward to going home to visit his family on December 25.

These Christmas blogs are getting expensive.

Last holiday shot of the day — Christmas trees made of black wattle branches. Black wattle trees are an invasive species in South Africa — they take over riverbanks and wetlands and suck up all the water. There’s a government program here called Working for Water, which hires people to remove black wattle trees and use their branches productively, like for these pretty trees. They’re for sale at the Parkview Florist.

Check out another cool South African Christmas tree.


  1. tanner24

    The bead art is fabulous! I love the black wattle Christmas trees as well. Thanks for sharing your little corner of the world with us. I never really thought of a trip to South Africa but having seen your photos, the appeal is growing!

  2. lisa@notesfromafrica

    These guys are really talented! Interesting how they have adapted their wares to the holiday season. I guess they better than anyone (more removed from their customers), understand about giving their customers what they want.

  3. Tilly Bud

    I love bead art. I have spiders in their webs and handbags and animals and all kinds of things. They are real works of art. I even have a penguin on my Christmas tree. It’s not really a decoration but I liked it so much I added a hook.

    That bare tree is gorgeous. I wish it was mine!

  4. beaded animals

    I love beaded animals! They are available online and in fine gift shops around the world. Make sure you are getting African made as some are now made in China to the detriment of the African crafters, who are the founders of this art form

  5. beaded animals

    Felix is back in Zimbabwe so he is no longer selling on the street in Jo’burg.

    • 2summers

      Thanks for the update – I hope Felix is doing well in Zim.


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