Heartworks: Storytelling through crafts and embroidery

Helle Vibeke Jensen and Tina Ratzer’s Heartworks workshop inspires out-of-the-box thinking.

Founded by Margareth Woermann, Heartworks is a Cape Town-based crafts company that works with underprivileged, local craftswomen from the surrounding townships to produce a wide array of handmade objects. Design Indaba partnered with Dutch artists Helle Vibeke Jensen and Tina Ratzer to host a handcrafting workshop with these women to stimulate their creativity and challenge them to think differently about their craft.

Giving them total creative freedom, Jensen and Ratzer encouraged the women of Heartworks to develop an unconventional approach when it came to colour, pattern, ideas and materials. Aimed at furthering the women's’ skills and encouraging their confidence as craftspeople, the workshop saw them using simple patterns and shapes to create intricate visual tales that will appear on cushions, blankets and more.

During the workshop, Jansen noticed a connection between her own artistic background and the embroiderers unique creative instincts:

“My background is as an illustrator,” she says, “and I can see the women, when they’re making their embroideries, they’re illustrators too. They’re illustrating their life, on a pattern. For me it's amazing to see how, through very simple drawings, you can create an entire story, an entire life.”

Visit Heartworks in Woodstock, Cape Town to see some of the women’s stunning work up-close.