The great artists of yesteryear leave a legacy for future generations to savour and admire. Creative artists do the same. Peter Martin met with quilt-makers, people who are able to decorate cakes magnificently, woodworkers who produce wonderful works out of the stump of a tree, as well as a metalworker who produces the finest items from scraps of metal.
Metalworker Gerry Lotz is a real artist, despite working in a material most artists would avoid like the plague!
He can manufacture out of metal the most intricate flower showing the most awesome petals, a magnificent mirror frame, or anything his client requests.
One of his best recent works is an altar made especially for a wedding, which was much admired by all the wedding guests.
“I have been a metal-worker for many years and I am very fortunate to have two men whom I have personally trained over the years and who are also very artistic and know what they’re doing,” said a proud Lotz at a recent interview.
Lotz said that to be a successful metal-worker, it is essential that the workman has the correct welding machine to work with as well as the correct materials for the job.
This is particularly important when doing a “one-off” job where no jig is required.
“We usually work from a full-size drawing and the workman and the article being made can be placed on the drawing itself, on the work-bench if necessary, particularly if it is an intricate item,” Lotz added. For larger items, the workman can work from a drawing on the floor of the workshop.
“Some of the jobs we do are very intricate and this becomes very time-consuming,” Lotz said. “This adds extra costs to the job, and it is not necessarily the material that is expensive.”
Lotz says one of the finest items he ever made was a beautiful mirror frame which was especially manufactured for a gentleman who subsequently moved to Australia. “Guess what?” says a rueful Gerry. “I forgot to take a photo of it. Oh well, it’s too late now,” he says philosophically.
For Gerry and his team, no item is too small or too demanding to manufacture for a client. Contact Lotz on 072-837-3101 and he will gladly arrange to supply a quotation.
Sweet as Sugar...
Rose Schonknecht is the chairlady of the East London branch of the SA Cake Decorators’ Guild and she has a real passion for her most interesting hobby.
Her daughter, 14-year-old Emma-Joy, has also shown interest and is involved with the hobby, and at a recent exhibition of cake decorating, Emma-Joy won a second silver award. At the same show, held recently at the Abbotsford Christian Centre, Rose won a gold, so winning awards really runs in the family. Rose’s other two children, Daniel and Anna, encourage their mother and sister in their hobbies.
Surprisingly, the cakes are not all they appear to be, being dummies, with judges checking the technique used and the finished look of the cake.
“It’s all about the art of using sugar,” Rose explained.
“When members meet, we enjoy any new challenges, and we never stop learning about this hobby; it’s so diverse.
“The Guild has very high standards,” Rose said. She explained further that there are four classes of members. A newcomer to any of the many Guilds in South Africa is first known as a Novice, then becomes an Intermediate, then with experience and knowledge, they become Advanced and finally a Master. Judges for exhibitions have to be Masters.
Rose says that so far there are no judges for competitions on the Border. At the last exhibition held in Buffalo City in early July, judges came from Port Elizabeth, George and Johannesburg.
Fees to join are reasonable at R290 per annum, which includes quarterly magazines which contain news items and information to assist all members.
Anyone interested in the art of cake decorating can contact Rose on
082-540-6452 for more information.
A retired Medical Practioner, Dr Elliot Murray, of Selborne, has a great interest in word-turning and woodworking, and is proud to be associated with the East London Woodcrafters’ Guild.
The members of the club make bowls, furniture and other items from wood.
“About 20 years ago, I attended a wood-turning function at the old Servistar, and there was so much interest, we decided to open the club,” Murray said.
In time, the woodturners added a wood-working section and every two weeks members gather at the Timber Warehouse in the SBDC when experts on the two subjects give practical lessons on how to improve their skills.
There are about 20 active members of the club and meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 5.30pm.
Dr Murray was a civil engineer when he started his medical studies at UCT and he and his wife, Cynthia, arrived in Buffalo City over 50 years ago to set up his practice. He retired from medicine in 2001.
“Indigenous trees produce the best wood,” Murray added. “In fact, the best wood to work with is jacaranda, which is an exotic wood originally from South America.”
He said that when he does receive gifts of timber, usually from trees that are forced to be pulled down, as a token of appreciation he will make a bowl or something similar as a gift for the supplier. He recently managed to obtain a fair amount of timber from a Coffee Pear tree pulled down in Beacon Bay.
Murray stated that there is little money to be made in Buffalo City as prices reached in the area cannot match the prices reached in other larger cities, particularly Cape Town.
“It’s really a labour of love,” he said.
Two members of the Buffalo City 360 team, Peter Martin and Tracy Mashinge-Jeche, attended a meeting of the East London Woodcrafters Guild and were warmly welcomed by the chairman, Chris Flanagan. There were about 15 members of the club present and the subject under discussion was the making of attractive wine racks. Members were rapt with interest and asked all the appropriate questions which were answered by the two speakers.
Flanagan added that the Guild members had combined to manufacture a magnificent grandfather clock made of African Rosewood as well as a roll-up desk made of Walnut.
Both Flanagan and Murray are keen to welcome anyone who requires additional information on wood-turning and woodworking or anyone would like to become a member of the Guild can contact them. Murray can be reached on 043 722 4106 and Flanagan on 082-894-0814.
A Stitch In Time...
The East Coast Quilters Guild was started in 1989 with 39 members. Originally named the Kaffrarian Quilters Guild, a name change was deemed appropriate after 1994. The idea was the brainchild of Gerald Muller of Floradale Nursery fame and originally membership was just R10 a year which has risen to R120 per annum with R60 per annum being the fee for country members.
Merle Dewar was the first chairlady and it was decided that the pineapple - designed by Lyn Riley - would be the logo of the Guild as this fruit is synonymous with East London. Some three months after being formed, the Guild members exhibited their work at Floradale November 1989. There was a later move to Nahoon Methodist Church for meetings and then to the East London Museum. Anne Attenborough was a founder member and is still going strong in the Guild. “Our meetings are a time to share talents and knowledge of quilting, and encourage one another,” said Anne.
Two other long-time members, Jenny Flemmer and Beryl Alexander, said that some of the ladies (and men!) who have joined, are most creative. “Yes, we bounce ideas off each other,” said Beryl.
“We love to share with quilters from other areas, and of course learn a lot of new methods,” said Jenny, who said that in many countries quilts are made only by hand, while in developed areas machines assist with the intricate sewing required.
The three explained that the East Coast Guild gets involved in two programmes- the Outreach and Charity programmes, while a huge raffle is held annually. The prize is usually an original quilt, and over the years the Guild’s many raffles have raised thousands of rand for various charities.
On occasions many quilts will also be handed out to orphanages and charities which look after young children, each child receiving a quilt with his or her own name sewn on the backing. The Outreach programme teaches prospective new members how to quilt, it being a hobby where concentration is intense and most important.
According to the members, scraps of materials are always kept. “Some of us have big bags full of different coloured scraps,” said Jenny. “These days, materials are very expensive and so nothing gets thrown away, and at some time or another we will use this scrap material as part of a new quilt.”
The finished product can take up to a year to finish, complete with the three layers which make up a quilt: the top, the middle or ‘batting’ layer in between, and the backing. “The act of sewing the three materials together is called quilting,” explained Beryl.
The Guild usually holds a 10-day Exhibition at the Latimer Hall at the museum each year and by this year membership has grown to between 50 and 60 active members. Anyone interested in quilting can contact Anne Attenborough on 083 603 2645 or Jenny Flemmer on 084 425 4255