the story vases tell the personal stories of five south african women. living in remote villages in kwazulu-natal, they are members of the siyazama project, a collective of women who work with traditional bead craft.recorded by the swedish designers front, the stories are the unique documentation of the daily life of women in rural, post apartheid, south africa. they are stories that are rarely told and seldom heard.
they shared their hopes and dreams, and talked about love, life and death. their stories also touch on such serious subjects as the effect of HIV on their society, gender, poverty and unemployment. they talked about their businesses , what beadwork meant to them
and what they would do, or buy, if they could afford to.
after front and the women together selected the parts of conversations to work with, each woman formed their own story into text by threading glass beads on to metal wires. these wires were made into vase-shaped moulds, into which glass was blown.
bead craft is an important part of zulu tradition, not only as a means of expression, but also of communication and telling stories. in the past, patterns and colours were woven into beadwork, symbolising feelings and ideas to lovers and friends, in a way similar to written language.
with the story vases, front used its conceptual approach to design, material and narrative to explore new ways of working with zulu bead craft in collaboration with the siyazama. this long-term project aims to broaden the market for the women’s craft and to let their stories be heard by more people.
the story vases was conceived during a workshop held in durban that aimed to develop a new product by sharing techniques and exchanging ideas. it was initiated and organized by editions in craft. the story vases is an ongoing series and is available in a limited edition produced by editions in craft.
all photos : front