• 21.10 2016


    At some stage of our lives, we will either be on the receiving end of a brief, or giving one. Creative briefs are special little beasts of their own – mainly because when dealing with a creative, one sometimes takes that word literally, or sometimes one is unsure exactly of all the detail necessary to effectively communicate what it is that you’re needing.

    To give you some examples, here are some things that can possibly go wrong when instructions are a little vague.

    Briefing disasters


    Perhaps it’s good to check how your logo will behave on a new item before you sign off production.

    Perhaps it’s good to check how your logo will behave on a new item before you sign off production.

    Always good to brief the designer of the direction that the item must face.

    Always good to brief the designer of the direction that the item must face.

    Be as specific as possible. With briefs, instructions will always be taken literally.

    Be as specific as possible. With briefs, instructions will always be taken literally.

    When it comes to effective briefing, visual references and written instructions are always appreciated. While doing some research, we did have a good giggle at some of the instructions that drive creatives mad…

    What not to say in your brief

    You’re creative, you figure it out.

    I’m not sure. Try something else.

    Try a more powerful colour.

    It’s not wow enough.

     Make it pop.


    So, how do you get the most of the briefing process?

    Have a budget in mind

    Know your budget for the project, or per product. With the cost of raw materials, plus the time needed to execute, having an idea of the price-point you are looking for really helps when putting something together. Be as specific you can with the budget. If you give too large a range, this can cause an overheating of heads trying to work out if you want cheap or high-end, detailed or simple, etc.

    Use references but not rip offs

    With the information you are giving on your brief, visual references / CAD drawings / colour-swatches / googled images, etc are received with open arms. Be careful to keep your references original – don’t make one creative copy another creatives’ work (that’s a no-no in the underworld of original work and respect for artistry), rather give some strong guidance and direction in terms of what you want – and of course an idea of size will also help prevent any surprises later!

     Clear OCD instructions

     What can I say here? The more detail, the better. If something needs to be 17.31cm exactly with 3 and a half rows of red beads, then rather write a thesis of instructions than end up with something that is slightly out of what you wanted. Most of the time, you, the person tasked with briefing the creative have in turn probably been briefed by someone else (a client or a boss), and we want you to be the hero by wowing them with what you have sourced – so be detailed with your instructions, we certainly love that very much!



  • 13.10 2016

    I’m Back!



    A series of amazing events, starting with me bringing a government official to Streetwires on my birthday, led to a lunch a couple of weeks later with Lauren, followed by a coffee-chat with Riaan, and next thing here I am back at my desk at Streetwires! (well, a different desk, but nonetheless!)

    After spending the 6 years since I left Streetwires learning and honing digital and online skills, it just made total sense for me to come back and (hopefully) add value with these skills. I’m here part-time, as my career journey has taken me on an entrepreneurial path too – but it’s wonderful to be here again!

    Coming back after all this time, I’ve noticed a lot of changes – and welcomed the familiarity of some things which have remained the same! For anyone who has experienced Streetwires, I hope one or two of these will bring a smile:-

    One of my favourite memories from before I left.

    One of my favourite memories from before I left.

    While I was away, the graffiti in the area became less accidental, and more artistic.

    While I was away, the graffiti in the area became less accidental, and more artistic.














     So what has changed then?


    The inside of the building – The shop is now downstairs, as is the welding workshop of Netshomi Zam. Upstairs, you’ll be greeted by the artists’ studio, the worker-bees, the admin team… (and even Riaan and his new recliner). There’s even a new, bigger kitchen with a coffee machine! The sample team now sits with the sales-team, which makes total sense (even though the sample artists turn the radio up when the sales team nags too much).

    New faces – Bernadette, in accounts, is a new face for me – but a wonderful one at that! More efficiency, team-ethic and super-dooper friendliness I have not seen in a bean-counter ever before. It’s lovely to be back to be able to work with her.

    Products – Well, after 6 years, it’s to be expected – but there’s so many new and amazing products to catalogue, and that’s precisely one of the things I’m busy with. It always blows my mind what can be done with some wire, a few beads and a pair of pliers.

    No neighbours – With some development plans for the block we’re in, Carol Boyes has moved a few streets down. This, however does not mean there’s more parking available now (see what hasn’t changed, below!).


    And what hasn’t?


    The artists still call Riaan ‘Madala’ (Old man) – enough said, poor guy!

    Tony – Those who know the colourful Italian mechanic from across the road with the even more colourful vocabulary (the one who can shout at a traffic cop and flirt with a lady at the same time), will be pleased to know he’s still in top form, and still stealing all the free parking in the greater Bo-Kaap area.

    The technology – I’m pleased to say that the ‘spindle’ or ‘bead machine’ is still a favourite gadget with the beading ladies. For those that aren’t familiar, this gadget comprises a wire frame, a Tupperware bowl of sorts, and an empty pen casing. You’ll have to visit to find out more.

    Other technology – We still have ‘The S Drive’ and ‘The Database’ – (both reverently mysteriously named labyrinths of servers, and admin/costing/recipe/CRM systems where files and photos are saved in such a way that even the FBI would have problems finding a keyring image).

    Laughter and fun – Everyone still works hard, and plays hard here. The vibe is still fun, light and happy. This definitely charges my batteries after all this time. And Riaan sometimes shares his beers with me at the end of a productive week.

    ‘Flops’ – Products that are not up-to-scratch in terms of quality or technique are still called ‘flops’ by the more experienced artists; beaded animals sometimes have no eyes, and the odd thing gets done upside down – but with an environment of mentorship, we are all here to help and guide and that’s why I love this place.

    Spot the beading machine!

    Spot the beading machine!

    It’s good to be back, and with an interesting time ahead – with some building development plans that I touched on earlier, we may have to look at leaving this building behind at some point. 77 Shortmarket is a heritage building, but we are still uncertain as to what the bigger plans are when the developers start next year. While we prepare to possibly pack all our memories and create new ones, we are looking for some options in terms of office, studio and shop space. If anyone knows anyone who knows someone who knows a place, give us a shout!


    And come and visit, I’d love to see some more familiar faces.


    Streetwires studio



    Nothing is better than seeing everyone busy.


  • 06.10 2016



    They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – unless you’re an artist trying to make a living that is…


    With wire-art being endemic to Southern Africa, there are so many talented wire-artists around. Along with such creative talent also comes the pressure to sell – and a lot of artists take inspiration from what products are selling well elsewhere, to make a living. With a substantial (upfront) cash investment into raw materials that artists have to make in order to be able to create pieces, one does understand the urgency and pressure to find and create that ‘winning’ design that the market is currently hungry for. Sometimes, unfortunately this often happens in reverse with client requests, reinforcing a message that copying instead of creative expression is okay.

    Here at Streetwires, we sometimes get requests to copy a sample that a client has purchased or photographed elsewhere. This is something we politely decline to do, as we take the ‘art part’ of wire-art very seriously and believe inspiration, signature and style is unique to each crafter, or group – and prefer to develop the quality and art side of the craft. We also like to encourage our artists to come up with new ideas or interpretations on a theme to keep our offering fresh.

    What really is fascinating as part of this process is to see everyone’s unique ‘signature’ or understanding of a new idea presented to them. Let’s dive in and see what we mean about art and interpretation. Maybe this will inspire you to explore and try something new!

    Here is a digital idea sketch that came from a client brief.


    Here are the interpretations from 3 different artists.

     streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-detail streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-example-2 streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-example-1

    And here’s the final approved product.


    They are all true-to-brief, and all magnificent, but definitely show how many different styles and ideas that come from creative crafters.

    I think this gives a good example of how one can put their own twist on something. Be it in the style, technique, or raw materials used.

    So never forget, as an artist brainstorming some product development, there are so many subjects of inspiration around – just a walk, or listening to a song, looking at a magazine, or watching people in a taxi can bring some amazing ideas.. Also feel free to research what is working out there (a good example is the fact that each season brings a new colour palette trend – go and look at the lastest paint swatches in a hardware store for ideas). If one wants to rejuvenate a product range that may have stagnated, a great way to do this is to try a few pieces out in the new season colours. You may just be surprised!

    And saying that, as a customer, it is one’s responsibility to encourage creative interpretation and not to commission artists to copy other people’s work. Make sure you always go directly to the source. If cost is an issue, speak to the artist. There may be different ways (or materials) to create the product cheaper. This is something we always accommodate at Streetwires, with careful consideration to paying a fair wage for that piece.

    And if you have a new idea for a commission, don’t be scared to share it – everyone creative likes to try something new, and the best way is via collaboration. It’s the only way to keep this art alive. We for one would be very happy to help!

  • 21.09 2015

    Well, this is our first newsletter in a long time, and we are going to try to do our best to send one out every month to our incredible Streetwires customers, supporters and friends. Spring has arrived, bringing the promise of summer and its mixed blessings – hay fever for some, and for us at Streetwires the beginning of our crazy busy season. Not that we’re complaining, we love being busy. The whole atmosphere changes, we laugh more, we fight more and we work very, very hard to get all our Christmas orders out on time. So “Happy Spring” to our local customers and “Happy Autumn” to our Northern Hemisphere customers and friends.

    Hot off the press
    Watch this space
    Visitors to Streetwires in the past two years will know that, for various reasons, we sublet the downstairs workshop for a period of time. James and his merry troop of wood workers were great tenants but they have moved on and we have reclaimed the space for our own. Our onsite shop has become so popular that we have decided to move the shop to the downstairs and keep the workshop and office upstairs. This will mean that the shop will be much bigger and better – a one stop wire and bead art concept shop, that we believe will be the first of it’s kind in South Africa. It will also be wheelchair friendly and people will still be welcomed into the artist’s workshop to meet and watch them at work and/or take part in a wire art workshop. The upstairs store will remain open until we open the new store.

    We are running a crowd funding initiative to raise cash in order to build the shop, install fittings and produce and source stock. We will ask for pre-sales to the value of R1000.00, which the customer can claim at any time, and we will offer a further 15% discount on the sale so that one has an extra R150.00 to spend. We will send out a mail with more details in the next week and we hope that we can get you as excited about our new venture as we are.

    Staff News
    Farewell Flo
    In our (almost 15 years) of business, we have hosted hundreds of interns and we come to love them all like family. This month we bid farewell to Florentin Goulefer. It was one of our saddest goodbyes and I don’t think any of us will ever forget him. Flo has an extraordinary work ethic and a real talent for life. He sorted out a new way for us to work with our POS system (which is going to help a lot in our new shop), he organised the other interns into brochure drops at hotels in the city, designed a mailer for tour guides, he was willing to get involved in all aspects of the daily business and he always did it with a smile. He learned to make wire and bead art, played soccer with the guys at lunch, played the guitar, sang in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and imprinted himself on our hearts forever. Go well our lovely Flo. We know you will succeed in anything you do.

    Streetwires Commissions
    Hot Commission
    We were recently commissioned to make this briefcase for a client, which was photographed for the cover a magazine. It has generated so much interest that we have already produced another one for an American collector who would not take no for an answer. The beadwork was done by our superbly talented master beader Dumi Gasela. We are reluctant to part with the original, but are happy to take orders for it, priced at R8200.00 ex VAT.

    Netshomi Zam Commissions
    Netshomi Zam @ Streetwires Hot Commission of the month
    Yep, the NZ team have been making magic again! Watch out for these beauties at the International Departures Lounge. Thank you Munier Barden for another brilliant commission and your ongoing support.

    Brand new
    New products
    Watch out for these new products that will be available in our shop towards the end of the month.
  • 16.11 2012

    Our South African Bird range has been really popular over the last few years and while we have added some birds to the range, we havent really gone large with it. So in 2013 we are planning to introduce a new range of birds. Pictured, a preview of one of the new styles which we will introduce next year.

  • 15.11 2012

    One of our very special clients asked us to come up with a food related clock for her organic store. The client is very special indeed, she is Mrs Erica Schofield, wife of CEO and founder Patrick Schofield. Being the lovely lady that she is, she gave us carte blanche and this is what we came up with. The store in question, is Kwalapa, a dynamic organic retaurant and deli based at the Montebello centre in Newlands that specialises in organic produce and holds a philosophy of mindfull eating. Check out their website at www.kwalapa.com for upcoming events.

  • 05.11 2012

    Jethro with Cupcakes

    At Streetwires, much of our business is customised work and as such we often get exciting challenges. Cape Foods, a dynamic local company specialising in spice and sprinkles recently commissioned us to make up some cupcakes to promote their divine cake sprinkles. We started with one, and they were so happy with it they ordered another three.

    Apart from the great fun we had making them, its fantastic that local companies recognise the uniqueness of this dynamic South African craft.

    Thanks Gerhard Martin, for a wonderful commission and I would highly recommend a look at the Cape Foods website which you can view at www.capefoods.co.za

  • 29.10 2012

    It’s been really exciting seeing our first blog post go live, and we hope that you, dear Streetwires fan, will comment so that we get an idea of what you like to read about. Anyway, looking at our first post, it occurs that there needs to be a follow on radio story. Since making our famous tin radio, we’ve made many more styles. Along with our classic Township radio we have our Ndebele Radio, Funky Radio, Cape Town Radio, Jazzy Radio, Baobab Radio, Safari Radio and even a mini Township radio. We have also customized radios for various clients.

    Branded Tin Radio

    More recently we have played with fully beaded radios. In 2009, in anticipation of the World Cup we designed the Soccer Radio which was really popular during the event.

    Of course after the World Cup there were a lot of discarded Vuvuzelas so we created our funky little Vuvu Radios. Amazingly, just placing the widest part of the trumpet over the speaker actually amplifies the sound.

    In 2011, partnering with the Indalo Project, we presented African Sounds Radios, a series of delightfully whimsical animal car radios.

    Also in 2011, we were invited to collaborate on a commemorative radio for the Cape Craft and Design Institutes 10th birthday.

    Next year we hope to launch a new radio – watch this space.

  • 17.10 2012

    Patrick Schofield with SW Tin Radio

    Welcome to the brand new Streetwires Blog which just happens to coincide with our 12th birthday. Yep, this October, Streetwires will be 12 years old! And it all started when owner and founder Patrick Schofield happened upon a working wire and tin radio, the ingenuity of which so impressed him that a gem of an idea was born, an idea that a craft as dynamic, innovative and versatile as wire art deserved a strong supportive structure on which to grow the medium, and more, an opportunity to create meaningful, sustainable employment.

    As it turned out, Patrick’s vision (considered crazy by some) was well timed and relevant as interest began to grow in this burgeoning craft. Corporates were clamoring for fresh and original gifts and international importers were looking to source high quality South African product. Today these sectors remain our biggest markets and between bespoke products and our range items we have almost 8000 products catalogued. Of course it would be impossible to list all 8000 of our products on our website, so we hope our new blog will allow us to show off the very best of our products and also to share events and milestones as they happen. We’re going to introduce you to our artists, tell you about what we’re up to and document some of the amazing one off pieces that we do for our wonderful clients.

    And the little tin radio? A quick check on the database reveals that since 2000 we have made over 3000 of that style alone. Want to know more about our radios? Drop us a mail and we’ll get a catalogue to you.