All I Want for Christmas Is a Rainbow Giraffe

If you live in Joburg, you know that the most popular beaded animal of 2013 is the rainbow giraffe.

Big ears

Beaded rainbow giraffes.

Beaded giraffes are nothing new in South Africa, nor are beaded animals in rainbow colors. But this particular design — the giraffe with a super-long neck, loveable face, and bright, blocky horizontal stripes — appeared earlier this year and has taken the beaded animal world by storm. Every beaded animal artisan in town is churning out rainbow giraffes, and they’re selling like hotcakes. I can see why. It’s impossible to look at a rainbow giraffe and not smile.

Blue giraffe

See what I mean?

As far as I’m concerned there is no better last-minute Christmas gift than a rainbow giraffe, and you can find one pretty much anywhere in Joburg. But if you want the very best quality and selection of rainbow giraffes, there is only one place to go: the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Chester Road.

Guys and giraffes

The biggest herd of rainbow giraffes in town.

I’ve been admiring the beaded animals on this corner, across from the Goodman Gallery in Parkwood, for years. I’ve driven past at least 1000 times and have often remarked that these guys make the best animals I’ve seen. And since the rainbow giraffe craze began, the Jan Smuts corner guys have upped their game even more.

This afternoon, for the first time ever, I drove past this corner and then turned around and went back. I could not resist the sea of rainbow giraffes; to me, these giraffes scream South African Christmas.  My camera had to photograph them.

Little giraffe head

Little giraffe with big eyes.

Infinite giraffes

Soooo many giraffes.

My friend Michelle couldn’t resist the giraffes either. She bought two.

Michelle and giraffes

Michelle with one of her new giraffes.

Michelle and I chatted quite a bit with the Jan Smuts bead guys: Kennedy, Elias, Eddie, Peter, Panganai, and Lenon. They are all from Zimbabwe (like every bead artisan I’ve ever met) and have been making animals on that corner for about 10 years. They are lovely guys — I regret that it took me so long to stop and meet them.

Artists

The Jan Smuts rainbow giraffe gang. I love them.

The Jan Smuts giraffes start at around R100 ($10) for the smaller sizes. These prices are very competitive in the Joburg beaded animal market.

There. I’ve solved your last-minute Christmas-shopping problems. You’re welcome. Now get yourselves to the Jan Smuts rainbow-giraffe corner before it’s too late. You can park in the lot at the Garden Shop.

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30 Comments

  • Reply janaline's world journey December 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

    They are beautiful!! Now I want one too!

    • Reply 2summers December 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Haha, I know. They are irresistable.

  • Reply Cloud December 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

    You would have solved my Christmas-shopping problem too, but it is a pity that the Jan Smuts corner is too far for me…but should I ever make it to Joburg again, I will get one of those giraffes! Nice pictures!

  • Reply colin December 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I agree with Cloud, however thanks for the story and sharing them.

  • Reply Jannik December 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    God, I miss Joburg.

    • Reply 2summers January 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      I know what you mean.

  • Reply Yashik Nanan December 23, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Gorgeous photos! Yes, it’s impossible to look at them and not smile!

    Merry Christmas H!

    • Reply 2summers January 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I’m glad you agree. Belated Merry Christmas to you too.

  • Reply Catherine December 23, 2013 at 7:26 am

    beautiful, I too wish I could drop by today and get some.Heather, I hope you don’t just photograph them…Merry Xmas and thanks for the weekly gift of the blog,,,

    • Reply 2summers January 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks. In the end I bought one for myself too.

  • Reply Sine December 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Absolutely adorable. Wish I could be there and go get my own. My favorite vendor corner has always been corner William Nicol and the road coming from Randburg, can’t even remember now what it’s called, is it Main? Spotted a huge beaded rhino there just before we left, but not sure they have other beaded animals. Someday someone will have to set up an export business with these guys, and they’d rock. My warthogs in front of the house (parting present) get a lot of comments here:-)

    • Reply 2summers January 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      I’ve always meant to stop at that big intersections. Looks so interesting every time I pass by.

  • Reply Rebecca January 5, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Soooo cool! I’ve always been so impressed at the bead work I saw in South Africa. I have quite a few bangles and necklaces, but no rainbow giraffe!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Rebecca, unfortunately the rainbow giraffe was not invented until quite recently. You’ll have to come back for one!

  • Reply Rebecca January 5, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Soooo cool! I’ve always been so impressed at the bead work I saw in South Africa. I have quite a few bangles and necklaces, but no rainbow giraffe!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Rebecca, unfortunately the rainbow giraffe was not invented until quite recently. You’ll have to come back for one!

  • Reply jabedi January 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I need one, or two, or a whole family of them

    • Reply 2summers January 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Haha. Me too. I bought two so I currently have a pair, although one will eventually go to my sister in America.

  • Reply jabedi January 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I need one, or two, or a whole family of them

    • Reply 2summers January 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Haha. Me too. I bought two so I currently have a pair, although one will eventually go to my sister in America.

  • Reply robyn August 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Where can I get these in natal? I bought one at a market a while back, but need a few more.

    • Reply 2summers August 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Robyn, I’m not sure. I’ve never shopped for beaded animals in Durban but I imagine they are plentiful there.

  • Reply robyn August 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Where can I get these in natal? I bought one at a market a while back, but need a few more.

    • Reply 2summers August 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Robyn, I’m not sure. I’ve never shopped for beaded animals in Durban but I imagine they are plentiful there.

  • Reply beaded animals August 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    We love the funky giraffes! Great pictures! Many of the bead crafters in Zimbabwe and South Africa are making them in a number of sizes. Of course the quality and prices vary. We’ve seen the work of this group of guys are they’re quite talented. We work with our own group of crafters who we feel are the cream of the crop. They used to sell on the streets but we’ve enabled them to work from home for export. For those of you in North America, we’ll be stocking them in 3 sizes for the 2014 holiday season.

  • Reply beaded animals August 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    We love the funky giraffes! Great pictures! Many of the bead crafters in Zimbabwe and South Africa are making them in a number of sizes. Of course the quality and prices vary. We’ve seen the work of this group of guys are they’re quite talented. We work with our own group of crafters who we feel are the cream of the crop. They used to sell on the streets but we’ve enabled them to work from home for export. For those of you in North America, we’ll be stocking them in 3 sizes for the 2014 holiday season.

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