3 December 2010 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

What I found in Wakkerstroom

Quite often, I end up in the most unexpected places.  Take Wakkerstroom for example.

When I left home in the morning, I was headed for Driefontein in Mpumalanga to cover a World Aids Day event. I had planned to drive back the same day.

It took longer to get there than I expected. This fact, combined with the area’s natural beauty, the great weather and the fact that I can call diversions ‘research’, resulted in me checking in to the Wakkerstroom Country Inn for the night.

En route, I saw a sign for the Wakkerstroom Glass Art Studio and the trip evolved from ‘research’ into ‘work’. Susanne van der Walt, who runs the Wakkerstroom Glass Art Studio, was unfazed by my unexpected arrival.

She opened her studio nine years ago. As a former art lecturer and porcelain painter looking for a creative outlet as well as a business opportunity, Susanne discovered glass art.  Her house and studio are adorned with glass bowls, panels, lamp shades and pendants that reflect years of experimentation with her craft.

“And even an absolute beginner will leave here at the end of a single day with something beautiful,” she assures me. When I look sceptical, she explains the process to me. It involves cutting and decorating sheet glass with paint, beads, copper wire and even gold leaf, lace and mica, and firing it in a special kiln to about 800&#176C. The paint and all additions are fused in permanently and voilà - you have your own piece of glass art.

Of course perfecting your technique may take longer but I can see that it is very gratifying to be able to produce results almost instantly and I’m going to give it a try when I go back for the Wakkerstroom Arts Festival from 19 to 21 March 2011.

The fact that Susanne’s studio is on an Arab horse farm of the Waltstroom Stud and has a self catering guest house on the property is an added incentive - it’s beautiful, quiet and just 4km’s from town. There are also there are many more accommodation options in Wakkerstroom itself. As well as offering great hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing, the area is also one of South Africa’s best birding destinations (with wetlands, grasslands and forests at varying altitudes), home to many more artists and studios, and boasts at least one resident cheesemaker - I picked some up on my way home - yum!

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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