Vondeling Karoo Angel Factory
Last Updated: August 2017
- Longitude: 23.128616
- Latitude: -33.346662
About Vondeling Karoo Angel Factory
There is an angel factory in the Karoo. The surrounding semi-desert landscape is arid, stark and striking- endless dry vistas of mountains and scrubland… But in a little old church you will find angels… unique African angels, skilfully crafted by hand, pure as the crystal blue air that raised the Vondeling crafters who make them.
Vondeling settlement consists of an isolated scatter of homesteads, made up of only 29 families, on public and private land close to the now disused Vondeling railway siding. It is located 47 km west of Willowmore in the Eastern Cape, close to the boundary with the Western Cape Province. The infrastructure at the settlement consists of a primary school and a church hall. There is no electricity supply. The town use to be connected to the outside world by train, but they have long since stopped running.
Vondeling Optel Craft is a wholly community owned social enterprise that has contributed to the visible regeneration of it’s community, and assisted the residents to connect the village and its people, on their own terms, with the outside world. With their newly acquired skills comes the satisfaction of being the empowered owners of their own business/enterprise, which is run by 13 remarkable women and 2 men. Vondeling Optel Craft is recognized as a reliable supplier to the top craft retail stores, and niche Christmas decoration stores in South Africa, and is also exporting successfully.
“With each angel we tell the story of our Vondeling people and as each product is sold, our isolation from the world recedes as we start to find our place and purpose on this earth. We once felt isolated and excluded from possible participation in any economic activity in the country, but through the creation of beautiful handmade objects and the running of our own business we now have hope, vigour and growing empowerment of our people.”
“Through our angelic creations, we the crafters of Vondeling Optel Craft also pass on the blessings of our own peaceful existence – simple, but filled with substance, laughter, happiness and contentment. Our secret is unpretentious, slow living – because we have never known or lived any other way.
Through the fusion of the mediums of knitting, crochet and felting and by using materials as diverse as locally produced merino wool, wire wool, beads and local products such as exquisite luxury ostrich feathers, we give expression to our creativity by producing a range of angels that are as authentic as the unadorned Karoo landscape that surrounds us.”
This community regeneration initiative was initiated in 2006 and sponsored by the Cacadu District Municipality. Vondeling Optel Craft was also supported by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), SEDA, Norad, Isandi and Craft Partners.