Saturday, August 27, 2011

Case study of a peer

Case Study of a peer – Zanel Heystek

How do you observe the world around you?  What do you see when you look at something?  Do we settle for the obvious or what we assume to be obvious?  More than the obvious is revealed when looking deeper.  
I get drawn in by the patterns of my surroundings, the patterns within patterns.  I seek the humour accompanying these patterns that animate the world.”
-            -Zanel Heystek

Zanel Heystek is an aspiring B-tech student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She matriculated at Stellenbosch High school and lives in Durbaville with her twin sister, who is studying zoology and botany at Stellenbosch University. She was introduced to jewellery in high school when given the opportunity to briefly attend jewellery technical classes at Birmingham Turves Green Girls School in England. Since her first year at CPUT she has been working on Saturdays as a sales consultant at Gerhard Moolman Fine Jewellery in Durbanville. She was employed part-time at Laser Options for six months, working at the bench, carving and model- making as well as cleaning up castings.
Her design philosophy revolves around patterns within patterns. She observes objects around her very closely. When looking at something that appears to be simple, she looks deeper and discovers weird and wonderful patterns within. She examines the object or image from an artist’s point of view, by asking herself questions about the materials and shapes and techniques used. She looks at all aspects of design she can draw from her inspirations, such as colour, composition and movement and perceives it with a humorous perspective. She is mainly influenced by everyday surroundings, architecture, people and landscapes. She is particularly inspired by interesting graphic art, such as magazine advertisements and takes a keen interest in unusual or dual-function furniture.

Her 3rd year theme revolved around an interesting Toyota advertisement she came across in an adventure magazine. The image demonstrates the effects of patterns one can achieve when looking deeper. She found that the trees in the image weren’t trees at all, but were a series of windmills forming the shape of a tree. She looked even closer and discovered that the windmills were made up of a repetition of elongated trapeziums as ‘leaves’ and the ‘branches’ were the same shape in a more structural form. She finds a way of breaking down a source of inspiration by analyzing the image thoroughly and discovers patterns within them, which she manipulates in interesting ways.

Her design and manufacturing style displays geometrical aspects, which derive from her love for architecture and furniture design. The mechanical aspect in her work illustrates a definite sense of movement and almost a constant feature throughout her jewellery as seen in her windmill earrings that actually rotate and comes with a perspex stand that resembles the frame of a windmill. When placing the earring on the stand, it depicts an actual turning windmill. This design is further enhanced with plique a’ jour enamel which allow the wonderful colours to filter through.

plique a' jour windmill earings

 One of her bracelets is made up of a series of repetitive trapezium shapes, which she meticulously constructed to fit into each other to create rhythm and movement. The trapezium shape is used throughout her range of jewellery in playful repetitive patterns, reminiscent of a windmill, with subtle changes that provide a constant flow through the range. The bold pierced out bangle is shaped like a windmill that is wrapped around your arm that features changeable stone by screwing and unscrewing the setting.

link bracelet
 blue topaz windmill stand ring

 windmill ring
 windpomp bangle

Her yellow gold earings features rectangular bars overlapping each other in a brick-like fashion and are riveted to create a sense of movement. The earrings feature a triangular-shaped smokey quartz stones that contrast the colour of the yellow gold. The shape of the stones compliments the windmill theme and the shepherds hook is bent in the shape of a trapezium which completes the geometrical look of the piece.

smokey quartz yellow gold earrings

Her influence of graphic design art can be seen in the set of pin brooches. The heads are all trapezium shaped frames which features photographs relating to her theme such as windmills,  landscapes and sunflowers. A beautiful rendering of a windmill is depicted on a limoge (opaque enamel) setting with graphite pencil. Her theme also features a range of rings in variations of trapezium shapes that is repeated in alternative patterns to create various effective compositions. Each ring has a unique finish and are either highly polished, matte or engraved with linear patterns with a basse taille enamelling technique. This range was manufactured by a computer aided programme called Rhinoceros and carved out with a Roland Miller machine in wax and was then cast in silver in the lost wax casting technique.

photo brooches
 limoge ring
 basse taille rings

Zanel Heystek generally has a clean-cut look with very subtle textures such as engraving or etching to enhance her sterling silver designs. She uses precious stones, photographs and enamel as a source of colour to elaborate her theme or designs. She does not use fabrics and odd findings as embellishments as this takes the attention away from the lustre of the highly polished metal finish.
Her aims and asperations are to further explore the many possibilitiies of pattern and design. She is currently persueing her research for her thesis on the history and exploration of kaleidascopes. She wishes to create a jewellery range using kaleidascopes as an element in her theme and collaberating it with her windmill theme. She can be found on facebook and also has a blog from which she markets herself at

prehnite windmill ring

Other third year pieces

tennis bracelet
 cactus enamel ring
 trinket box- jack-in-the-box
plique a' jour window

second year ring range project

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Design theory


Hennie Meyer was born in Cape Town in 1965 and matriculated in 1983 at Grey College in Bloemfontein. He was introduced to ceramics as a medium by pure chance. He was on a Rotary Youth Exchange Programme in Australia in 1984 where the school apparently refused to accept white South Africans. He then applied at the Bendigo College of TAFE where he studied ceramics for a year and received a Certificate of Applied Arts (Ceramics). He trained as a production potter creating functional ceramic ware. He furthered his studies in South Africa and graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 1989. He became a ceramics and textile teacher shortly thereafter.

He now runs a ceramic studio from home in Durbanville, creating decorative handmade earthenware and simultaneously teaches his skills to keen learners.

Hennie Meyer has won several awards since 1993 such as Highly Commended Awards and Contemporary Design to name but a few from APSA Western Cape Ceramic and many others and has won numerous Merit Awards. Due to his astounding success, he was promoted to a selector and a judge at ceramic exhibitions. Hennie Meyer exhibits extensively locally and internationally at the Sasol Muzeum in Stellenbosch and at the Design Idaba. His work has been included in various permanent collections and has been selected for international publications by Lark Books in three ceramic books; 500 bowls, 500 pitchers and 500 teapots. Internationally, he has exhibited in Shanghai, Australia, at the World Ceramic Biennale in Korea and at the Ceramic Art London.

Hennie Meyer produces individual decorative, yet functional ceramic pieces. He mainly works in earthenware and experiments with the expressive qualities of glaze and clay. He passionately takes on challenge of using composite shapes from which he produces a unique balance of bold forms of highly detailed surfaces which creates exquisitely beautiful ceramics in his recognizable signature style.

“What really attracts me to ceramics is the tactility of the clay and its immediate response to forming. Unlike painting, where  the brush is between the artist and the canvas, you work directly into the clay.” –Hennie Meyer

His work is inspired by the richness and vibrant diversity of Africa’s beauty. The subtle touches in his distinctive pieces are a true reflection of his African surroundings. One can pick them up through his detailed textures and more specifically in his use of dynamic colours reminiscent of Africa without making it appear typically ethnic.

“My work somehow does reflect Africa. I think living and working in Africa is so different from anywhere else that it would be quite hard not to have the sun, colour and edge we have here, not reflect in my work.” –Hennie Meyer

The characteristic beauty of his ceramics are uniquely functional and simultaneously stands as a fantastic art piece in its own right. He has a distinctive way of interpreting texture and form that creates characteristically playful and quirky elements that makes his work so remarkable. 

He incorporates bold shapes with simple curves to create the unique forms found in all his pieces and adds fine horizontal and vertical lines that create a wonderful decorative texture. Sometimes check patterns and X patterns are used that add a geometrical feel to the piece. The interesting handles resemble ruffled fabric and the hint of gold studs and lining further enhances the designs. 

Cool colours are a dominant feature in most of his ranges. He uses neutral colours such as grey and blue- green tones, which is contrasted with an off-white hue that either gives it a rustic appearance or simply a sense of bold glamour. With other ranges that portray more of a South African feel displays more earthy tones such as brown, orange and red that’s contrasted with cream. This can be seen in a few of his teapots that in my opinion are a bit exaggerated. However these colours are used more subtlety in his tiles that display a sense of serenity that portray South African life. His end product is partly matt finished and glazed that gives great contrast to the piece.

A dominant feature that appears in most of his work is the subtle hint of metallic luster in the form of studs or simply a sliver of an outline that give it a touch of glamour and sparkle. The geometrical form and especially the spouts that resemble the beak of a toucan are Hennie Meyer’s signature style. Leaves are the main subject matter used as patterns and embellishments. The organic patterns are sometimes contrasted with the use of geometric lines, and are then balanced by the simple form of the piece.

He creates ranges with a similar feel and shape, with subtle changes of pattern on each piece. This can be seen especially in his range of teapots that actually appear to be dancing that create a sense of movement. The personification in his work is reminiscent of an elegant woman, one ‘arm’ curved and the other outstretched and looks as if it’s about to burst out in song and dance. He cleverly uses the handle, the spout and the body as a way of expressing a theatrical pose that give it a sense a humour and a touch of magic. A set of two or more of these teapots could create a wonderful theatrical scene. It kind of reminds me of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast characters.

The composition of the teapots suggests a human form and qualities. In quite a few of them the pattern work at the bottom half is displayed in a way that suggests a skirt. The handle of the lid is reminiscent of a headpiece or crown hence the metallic rendering.   
I especially admire his quirky wall vases which are a great alternative to the usual standing vases. As a group they make a wonderful composition in a large or small space, inside or outside to display flowers.

His style of design is what appeals most to me. I admire the way he interprets South African elements so subtly. The bold and animated shapes and colours certainly capture the essence of South African heritage. His use of clean bold forms and subtle embellishments is what made me fall in love with his work. I also deliberately use South African elements when designing jewellery. 

His award-winning status has earned him high praise as an artist and he has earned international appeal as well. He is one of the artists that makes you feel proudly South African and gives us hope as young designers that hard work, passion and determination can take one far in life.

Colourful ceramic jugs 


Dancing teapots

Ceramic tiles, plates, vases 

Wall Hanging Ceramic Vases

Photograghs by Fatima Kader at Design Indaba 2011