The traditional craft of weaving takes on a whole new meaning (and look) with Songezo Baleni’s range of fine woven jewelry.

With his range of fine woven jewellery Songezo Baleni is establishing himself as a design force to be reckoned with. The young Durban-based jewellery designer was an Emerging Creative at Design Indaba Expo 2012, and visitors loved his work!

Baleni describes his experience as an Emerging Creative as “amazing”, adding that it was an honour to showcase his work at national level. “For me this was a great opportunity to interact with customers, because the galleries selling my pieces usually do that, so I have little opportunity to talk to the people buying my pieces.”

So where did this young maverick begin? Baleni draws inspiration from his traditional background, specifically weaving with grass. But more than that, Baleni believes inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere – in buildings, in stones, in contrasts and in the work of other jewellers.

“I had an idea of using the same technique used when making an Ox whip with two leather strips, after refreshing my mind making a test piece I had to make wire, and I did have the right tools to do the job but I had to use what I have to make wire. I used fire wood as a peg, grinding stone to file a point so that I can pull wire, with the vice mounted on the broken chair , with the draw plate, my Mom holding the chair steady while I draw wire, when I was done drawing wire I used the fire wood stove (Jewel Falkirk) to anneal the wire, then after I started braiding.”

For the most part Baleni found that visitors were amazed by his work and particularly impressed by the weaving techniques that characterise his pieces. From the few corners that Baleni did get criticism he says it was very constructive.

Stud earrings and rings tend to be Baleni’s bestsellers. People are often impressed by how Baleni takes a traditional crafting technique, like weaving, and makes it work in fine jewellery. The use of flow and movement is another feature of Baleni’s work, as he tries to move away from straight lines to add shapes and curves to his pieces.

Looking to the future, Baleni hopes to keep producing good work and wants to help other designers “find their own design elements and help them start their own businesses”.



Design Indaba –

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