Friday, 12 July 2013

Ngwenya Glass Factory

They are not blowing in the wind!
Good artist creating unique and quality items is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Swaziland.  One of the big tourist attractions in Swaziland is Ngwenya Glass. 
In the 1970’s a Swedish consortium started this glassblowing factory as an aid project but after a few years it ran into financial trouble.  One of the visitors to this factory was the family Prettejohn. When they returned to Swaziland a few years later they could not find the factory and while refuelling their vehicle at a filling station close to the Ngwenya border post they asked the attendant where the factory was. The attended told them he was one of the glass blowers and they had all lost their jobs as the factory had been closed down.  Just there the Prettejohn decided to resuscitate this factory and nearly five decades later they are still going strong. 
Ngwenya is the SiSwati word for crocodile. The factory lies at the foot of a mountain that resembles a crocodile. Here many Swazi men and women have been trained in the ancient art of glassblowing. Daily they create their own interpretations of the African animals as well as unique tableware and decorative art items. Visitors to the factory can view the artists at work from a balcony with no protection from the heat. Just standing there experiencing the incredible heat in which these people work all day and every day serves to increase ones admiration for their effort. When you go into the show room to admire the fruits of their creativity you pay the price on the item with a smile. 
Ngwenya glass also keeps moving with the times and have commited themselves to be ‘green’ and to help with some of the social problems rife in Swaziland. On their website you can read more about Ngwenya Glass’ involvement  with the recycling, planting of indigenous trees, supporting orphans, helping to prevent abuse  and many more commendable  projects.

Examples of the tableware handmade at Ngwenya Glass.

This proud peacock is one of many often hanging around to welcome visitors to Ngwenya Glass.