With strong hands, scarred by some of his wire-work, yet gentle enough to add the most intricate detail and beading to his craft items, Zamile Ntlanjeni, 56, was inspired by his love for Isuzu bakkies to make his latest wire model – complete with a red beaded badge, grill and side lamps.
Ntlanjeni has been working for more than ten years at an Isuzu on-site supplier, BLG Logistics.
“I work with the Isuzu bakkies every day and learnt to memorise the shape of the new model. I can look at something only once, and then make my art from it,” said an excited and humble Ntlanjeni.
If he had to give his very first, beautifully crafted Isuzu wire bakkie an imaginary colour, it would be white – the same colour that his late father’s Isuzu bakkie was.
“My father, Sizakele, drove his Isuzu bakkie for a very long time. He got it in 1980 and he sold it in 1997. I loved going on trips as a child in my father’s bakkie and learnt to drive the bakkie and also got my driver’s licence with this bakkie,” Ntlanjeni said.
Since selling the bakkie, Ntlanjeni, who lives in Paterson, now relies on getting lifts to work, commuting over 100 kms to Isuzu’s Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre in Markman Township, Port Elizabeth.
Even though he wakes up at 4am to get to work on time, he loves nothing more than making his wire models in his spare time, at night and over weekends. “I like to work and keep busy. I do it with my whole heart,” he said.
Ntlanjeni started making wire craft items at the age of 11 years and only needs a pair of plyers, some beads and some wire to make any object that comes to mind or inspires him. The wire craft items take anything from two days to one month to make – depending on the spare time he has available for it, as well as the detail of the work needed to make the object.
Other than cars and bakkies, Ntlanjeni also makes wire models of animals. He is currently busy with an order of wire model animals and keyrings for a game reserve close to Paterson where his daughter, Sesethu, 23, works on a part-time basis at its craft centre.
She has followed in her father’s footsteps with her love for art and Ntlanjeni has taught Sesethu to make the same wire models; passing on a craft that brings to life the beautiful creations of his mind.