Rietbron in the Eastern Cape is home to an interesting little craft project based in a local school. Here nearly a dozen people, most of them previously unemployed, are engaged in producing beautiful wire and bead crafts. But part of the attraction is the unspoilt quietness of the town.

Did you know?

Many lovely Karoo cottages in Rietbron were built as ‘holy communion’ houses by farmers who sought 'town houses' after trekking long distance to church services in the town.

Rietbron in the Eastern Cape is the quintessential quiet desert town. All roads revolve around a blonde facebrick church with a springbok as its weathervane.

Nothing much happens here, and that is the greatest part of Rietbron’s charm. People drive from cities hours away just to sit on Rietbron verandahs and rest their eyes on the far horizon.

In the nearby township, however, weekdays are a hive of activity at a corner of the local primary school. This is where the Rietbron Handcrafters create unbreakable and beautiful crafts, perfect for travellers.

There are most beautiful hearts, crosses, angels and rosettes and dangly ornaments made with fine wire, crystals, beads and sequins. From this unlikely little town, crafts are sent out to Cape Town, Johannesburg and as far as Norway.

Eleven people are involved in the project, which was supported by the local district municipality and a tiny company called Craft Partners, who transformed their skills from simple knitting and crocheting to using those same skills, but with wire.

They work in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere in a spacious room, an unused classroom at Bronville Primary School.

Their children play around their feet. It’s a nurturing environment, and all the crafters deeply appreciate the work. For most of them, it’s the first full-time work they’ve ever had.
For others, it has enabled them to come back home from farflung cities where they were doing seasonal work. It is a source of great pride that they are now breadwinners in their families.

'We love creating beautiful things, and we love being together every day. We so enjoy each other’s company,” says Sena Steenkamp, who co-ordinates incoming orders.

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