The art of making telephone wire baskets is an indigenous South African art form. It evolved from the extraordinary basket weaving skills of the Zulus. First started by night-watchmen who whiled away the long nights weaving telephone wire, these early pieces are highly collectible. Today, the production of telephone wire baskets is undertaken by women and men and are popping up in art galleries, and posh decorator magazines such as the August 2010 issue of Veranda Magazine.
Originally the telephone wire was scrap, but then wire started to get ripped off working telephone poles. Today there is such a demand that the more organized basket weavers buy their wire from a supplier. As a fair trade operator, I do not support any exploitation and so have made sure that these baskets are made from legitimately sourced raw material.
This fascinating video shows Durban basket weavers at the Santa Fe International Craft Fair.