Merewyn De Heer has always loved creating beautiful things. Some of her fondest childhood memories are sitting on the floor of her mother’s sewing room pinning things together, making Barbie outfits, fantasy animals and peg dolls.
After years in the advertising industry she began dreaming about how she could combine her creative passion with her desire to help vulnerable women. And this is how Handmade Story was born.
The company makes beautiful, handmade, clay bead chandeliers, homewares and lighting. All the products are proudly made in South Africa by a collective of women. The unique creations are inspired by international influences but have a distinctly African flair.
Core to Merewyn’s ethos is the use of hand rolled clay beads. This is strategically important because the clay can be distributed into communities for women and their families to roll by hand – creating jobs where they are needed. Vulnerable women, many of whom are affected by HIV and who are unable to work, can roll these beads from home to earn a living to support themselves and their children.
Merewyn’s dream couldn’t have succeeded without her talented and enthusiastic team. Each chandelier is the result of their team work. Merewyn hand draws each design, a local iron worker creates the frame and the women make the beads.
Each bead is hand rolled from raw clay, sun-dried, then goes into a kiln and is dyed by hand. Each chandelier takes between 7000 and 15,000 beads to create. The final step is that each bead is intricately hand strung onto the wrought iron framework.
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Work in Progress on one of 5 GIANT hellooow handmade clay bead chandeliers! Enjoy...! x #handmade #ceramicbeads #clay #ceramic #hellooowhandmade #beadedchandelier #communityproject #authentichumanstory #southafrica #lovelights #lovewhatwedo #talent #usingourtalents #craft #thankyougod🙏
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Welcome to our busy hellooow handmade studio! We are so blessed to have so many orders from all over the world! We would love to make a custom chandelier for you too, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we ship anywhere in the world! #handmade #custom #worldwide #southafricandesign #hellooowhandmade #hellooow #claybeads #byhand #bespoke #chandelier #light #handrolledbeads #beads
The project also has an eco-friendly element, by using a recycled paper clay this adds to the ‘robustness’ of each piece, reduces the weight and also supports recycling. Merewyn won’t use mass produced plastic or wood beads as they do not create employment and are bad for the planet. The perfectly imperfect ceramic bead tells a much kinder and more authentic human story.
Handmade Story’s chandeliers are a unique and eye-catching focal piece for any room. They come in a variety of styles - some with a French influence, some more minimalist, standard lamps, bedside pendants and gorgeous feature lights.
Chandeliers can be customized to fit your space and are available in a variety of colors – matched exactly to your requirements from a paint swatch or color code.
All images from @hellooowhandmade