Master Wire and Bead Craft

Master Wire and Bead Craft
Soon after Bishop Tarambawamwe moved to Cape Town from Rusape in December 2003, armed with talent and a skill for wire and bead work, he started making artisanal products to sell on the side of the road leading to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. 

“Coming from a landlocked country, I never knew what a dolphin was,” he laughs of his humble beginnings, when tourists used to ask him for custom-made products of animals they had seen during their visit to Cape Town.

A policeman noticed Bishop’s exceptional work and suggested he approach the V&A Waterfront, which led to the first Master Wire and Bead Craft shop at the then Blue Shed. Subsequently, the business has been part of the Watershed since it opened in 2014. 

Bishop’s animal ‘trophy heads’ and home products such as frames, mirrors and bowls are highly sought-after around the world, and he exports more than half his work to countries as diverse as Russia, Portugal, Angola and Australia.

He says the connection he had to nature as a child is one of his greatest gifts, something that inspires him to this day. “Growing up, we had to count the cattle before sunset, and would wake up before sunrise, when we heard the cock crow, knowing it was time to milk the cows. I think this inspiration is what sets my work apart.”

Meet the Makers
Bishop manages a team of eight, including his brother Anderson. The Tarambawamwe men are part of the Chipunza clan, and grew up herding cattle and tending to the land in their part of Manicaland. “Our grandfather had a lot of cows and goats,” says Bishop, “so I know the mountains of the area very well. People call mountain-climbing a hobby, but to me it was just how I grew up.” 

It is this same grandfather, an elder in the village, who Bishop used to watch carving walking sticks for all the men in the community when they got married. “No one ever called him an artist, but that’s what he was doing. I’m so proud of the culture I grew up with, and the way we were taught to work with our hands. Nowadays kids are just interested in the computer, so I’m not sure who will carry on with this work.” 

This totem was proudly made by:
Anderson Tarambawamwe  
Andiswa Skeyi
Bishop Tarambawamwe 
Enock Mpofu 
Reginald Khumalo 
Shorai Simango 
Violet Bakasa 
Wisdom Sithole

Related Articles


Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss another update from the V&A Waterfront.