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A Rose Of Glass And Metal

I’m working late again tonight.

I have a hot date tomorrow evening, and I don’t want to leave the project unfinished. So instead of going home, I pop out quickly to buy an unhealthy dinner.

When I climb out of the car, a man approaches me.

“Would you like a flower?”, he says. He is holding out a bead and wire rose. I tell him no thanks.

“Would you buy me something to eat? I’ve had a tough day.” He has such tired eyes. I agree.

While we wait for the food, I ask him questions. His name is Samuel. He lives in town, and has to take a taxi out here every day. He knows about all the flea markets around, but he would have to pay for a table, and there’s too much competition. His brother taught him to make wire art, and it is hard. His fingers hurt from the effort of making them.

He shows me the things he has made. The long stemmed glass and metal roses, a tiny elephant, and the thing he is most proud of, “my little shoe”. The last one is his own design.

I wonder how I can help this man. I stare at the little shoe while trying to think of something. Supply and demand. Rarity makes something valuable. Discovering a niche. Anime figurines? Maybe a product with utility other than just aesthetic.

The food arrives, and I still have no words for him. No magical plan that will transform his business. He thanks me for the food, and bids me a good day. It’s been dark for an hour.

I feel helpless.

I don’t know how to help this man, or the other artists displaying their goods by the roadside. Everything has the same style, so we assume it comes from the same place.

The reason it all looks the same is because they learn from one another. The work has no voice, because it is the voice of them all.

I have no idea how to help this man and his brothers. I wish I did.


  1. Jesse wrote:

    “The work has no voice, because it is the voice of them all.” Nice post on what is a very awkward subject - I read so many blog posts about higher end crafts, where people argue constantly about whether it’s art or craft. At this end of the scale that’s all meaningless debate. Here it’s simply work, trying to make as much as possible in the hope of a sale, no time to spend on ‘exploring the medium’ or ‘product development’.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 09:55 | Permalink
  2. SaulK wrote:

    How was the date date Gustav?

    Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 10:25 | Permalink
  3. Gustav Bertram wrote:

    Pretty good. I’m not completely uncharming, and she was not completely uncharmed.

    I’m taking her to a braai later today. Let’s hope I don’t set my hair on fire again.

    Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 13:22 | Permalink

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