”I started woodcarving in the early 1970’s . The first item I made was a ‘pato’ which is wooden tool women use to ‘harden’ dung floors with. At school handwork was one of our subjects, where we could choose to do anything we like, from grass weaving, floor mat weaving to woodcarving,” says Petrus Sekele.
Had to leave school early
After I passed grade 7 in 1976, I was unable to continue with school and had to leave home to find a job. In 2006 I decided to look at woodcarving again and first made functional items like wooden spoons, walking sticks, hooks and pap stirrers which I sold at the social grants pay points and to the local villagers.
Patos into coat-hooks
I am a Mopedi man, my home language is Sepedi. I had no formal teaching, but woodcarving feels natural to me. The Africa Craft Trust taught me painting-techniques and helped me to develop some designs. Turning ‘patos’ into coat-hooks was as a result of the Africa Craft Trust’s product development training.
I plant my own wood
I am using the wood of an indigenous shrub called the Mogwane (Grewia) found in bushes and on mountains in my part of the world Sekhukhune in Limpopo. The tree produces very nice sturdy sticks to make walking sticks. It is also a pretty shrub with nice flowers attracting bees to gardens. I make my hooks from wood of the Mojakwane tree, a soft indigenous wood. It is an easy tree to grow too I just cut the branches, no matter how big, and grow it myself. This wood must be left in the sun until it is thoroughly dry before it can be worked into a product.