Why do the angels have different names?

The naming of the Karoo Angel came very intuitively – it was a means of communication between the crafters and Isandi as to which angels we referred to, instead of using complicated codes (which also are a bit boring….). And it was of course quite natural to choose familiar names – and so the tradition of giving names from the Vondeling – and later Rietbron – community was born. It is always the crafters themselves who decide the names, and the rest of us involved are always very curious and excited to get the new names.

How accurate are the sizes of the angels?

If you look closely at the angels you will soon discover that none of them are identical, even if they have the same name. Perhaps the one has bigger wings than the other, or perhaps the ostrich feather dress is a bit longer. This is of course due to the fact that every single Karoo Angel is entirely made by hand. And the ostrich has of course no standardized measurements for its feathers.

Why is the cream feather colour so different from one angel to another?

The feather colour cream/champagne/ natural might appear with some variations – some are lightly coloured, others darker and more intense. This is due to the simple fact that the feathers are dyed by hand – in tea!

My feather angel looks so “flat”?

The smaller feather angels, those made with tuft feathers, all come packaged in a small plastic bag, where they indeed look very flat. The feathers need air to unfold, and the longer they are allowed to “breathe” – the more fluffy and beautiful they become, ready to fly….

Do I need to treat the Karoo Angels in any special way?

Your Karoo Angel is guaranteed a long life if you look after it well. When not part of your decoration, we recommend to  store it in a closed box. We further recommend to store the angel together with a silica sachet, one of these small sachets that are accompanying so many industrial made products these days. The silica will keep the angel moist free, and this is important for avoiding the wire part of the angel looking grayish, instead of silver.

The feathers are looking bland, what should I do?

The big feather angels – the Voilet and Sophy angels – have their dresses made from bleached ostrich feathers. If they  over a long period, like many years, hang in f.i. a window, the feathers might look not as white any longer. You can make them whiter again by using inexpensive hydrogen peroxide – we have tested by intense spraying – and it worked! Make sure that you have not anything near the angel that you do not want to bleach in the same go. You make the dress fluffy again by using a hair dryer on low temperatures. Caution: Do not hold the hair dryer too close to the angel dress, high temperatures will easily burn it.

Where do the feathers come from?

The ostrich feathers come from Klein Karoo International – KKI – in Oudtshoorn, named the “ostrich capital of the world”, a town approximately 150 – 200 kms from Vondeling and Rietbron. It is hence locally sourced materials that is used in the feather angels. Ostrich feathers come in different sizes, and in different grading. For the bigger feather angels we use several single feathers, hence a more expensive product. For the smaller angels we use a feather tuft. We recommend to check out KKI’s home page if you would like to read more about the ostrich industry in South Africa, including the controversies that always surround animal industrial production. www.kleinkaroo.co.za

Where does the rest of the material used come from?

The wire currently used in the angels is produced in South Africa. However, due to the global situation in the raw material market, we are not sure how long this will last before we will have to use imported wire. The ornaments, i.e. the glassbeads and sequins, are mostly imported from China, but also some more exclusive Czech beads are used.

How are Karoo Angels organized?

Karoo Angels is a South African company, registered as a (pty)Ltd, and currently owned by Kjersti Lie Holtar. No one is employed in the company, its purpose is to facilitate and be the link between the crafters and the market. Karoo Angels (Pty) Ltd facilitates orders, develops and maintains production schedules, organizes the purchases of raw material, develops print and marketing material  – and last, but not least – Karoo Angels guarantees that the crafters get paid for all the angels they produce.

How are the crafters paid?

The most common way of payment in the craft sector in South Africa is per piece. From this follows that the more you make, the more you earn. Obviously then an experienced crafter will earn more than a beginner. Karoo Angels (Pty) Ltd, buys the angels made by Rietbron Craft and Vondeling Optel Craft. The two craft groups are separate legal entities, both organized as cooperatives, where the full time crafters are members. However, the two groups have chosen different ways of paying their members, which also reflects their production lines:
In Vondeling Optel Craft each crafter makes the entire angel, sometimes by the use of piece workers each member of the cooperative pays directly to produce part of the angel. In Rietbron Craft they have adopted a different production line approach: Each crafter makes a component of each angel, without the involvement of “associated crafters”. In addition they alternate between themselves who is doing what: One makes the head, one knits the wings, one makes the dress, one assembles, one puts on special bead and other adornments, one puts on tiger tail and tags, one packs etc etc.) Rietbron then shares the payment received equally between the crafters, whereas in Vondeling the individual crafter gets paid according to number of angels she has made – and then she again is responsible for paying any “sub-contractors” she might have used.

Now to what crafters are actually paid:
In cooperation with the crafters a per piece price for the various angels is decided, with the benchmark that they will earn at least the minimum wage for rural farm workers in South Africa, as decided by the Government. At the moment this is approximately R 2,778 per month. Not-so-experienced will earn less, whereas the really fast and good crafters will easily earn more. But, to complicate this – it is not straight forward to decide what is a month’s work. The farm workers’ salary in South Africa is based on 9 hours 5 days a week, i.e. 45 hrs/week, Karoo Angels’ calculations are based on 40 hrs/week. But the crafter will often work less than the 40 hrs, not because of lack of orders, but because they have all the other obligations they have to attend to – like care for children, preparing food, looking after family members.

Since the demand for the angel is so big, why are the craft groups so small?

Both Vondeling Optel Craft and Rietbron Craft are independent craft groups, with their own distinct identity and ways of operation. It is easy for outsiders to think that it is just to add on more people to the craft group, to solve the production capacity issues. The reality is that it is not that simple at all. The groups dynamics are so important and vital to the success of the Karoo Angel, and this is to be respected. More people will also mean more administration, and hence higher running costs. Besides that, we should all learn from Jesus: if you are more than 11 people in a group, you surely will have a constant staff problem….

Can I visit the Angel Factory?

Of course, you are more than welcome to visit the Angel Factory! However, since it is quite a drive, and we do not want you to arrive at a moment where there might be no activities, (also angel makers have holidays etc…..) we strongly recommend that you contact the Baviaans Tourism Office in Willowmore prior to your visit. Email: tourism@baviaans.co.za

Can I order my own special angel?

Although the Karoo Angels surprisingly enough sell all year around, it is first and foremost a seasonal product.The crafters start already in January to make angels, in order to build up stock to meet the demand for angels in the Christmas season, 11 months later. We are dependent on thorough production schedules, with corresponding material supplies, and due to this we unfortunately cannot accommodate custom angels. But – we are always open to suggestions and ideas for new angels!

I wish to buy Karoo Angels, but there is no shop near me

If you live in South Africa and want to buy Karoo Angels, we will of course try to assist you, in cooperation with Baviaans Tourism Office. Email us at info@karooangels.co.za

I live outside South Africa and wish to buy Karoo Angels

We will surely try to help you to get your Karoo Angels if you live outside South Africa. Either check the distributors’ list in Where to get Karoo Angels, or send us an email.

I own a shop and wish to sell Karoo Angels

We would of course like to get in contact with you if you want to sell Karoo Angels in your shop. Please contact us at info@karooangels.co.za

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