There is an age old practice of strong men being weavers, creating handmade goods with tensile strength. Nations across the world have passed on this tradition with fervour to maintain the heritage and skill that was overwrought by powered looming.
Craig McAlister runs a tight ship. His factory and showroom in the heart of Umhlali is a vision of clinical precision, the rafters have a bright tinge of fire truck red and the walls are covered in a bright white coat of paint providing a stark contrast. Departments are separated into neat segments, with workers busying themselves with a chorus of chatter as they tend to their various tasks. Zulu women can be found weaving in a relaxed manner as the sea breeze quenches the dry heat, whilst the sound of waters lap at the earth.
Craig is a can-do type of man and much like the polycane they use to make some of their products, he stretches himself to the full extent of his capabilities, from manager of Macalli to a worker who is studious in passing on knowledge to a staff that he is not ashamed to tension up if need be. The stately man with tensed arms, silvering hair and urban metro style, has a subdued tone to his face, a smile mixed with an edge of laughter escapes as he becomes focused. It’s a juxtaposition of a man who was brought into steep regiment during his time in the army and remains respectful with an assurity of someone who has learned lessons that life can only give.
The father of two boys expects a level of excellence that extends outside of his working hours instilling fortification in all they do, from sports through to academics, and is enthusiastically involved. Craig is the man who has been in the furniture business since he departed from school and joined the family business, taking the reigns. He stands strong, confidently rooting himself as his hands weave at an alarming speed, grappling at the wicker polycane, manoeuvring it in astonishing ways. The motion mirrors his versatility, over his many years as a manufacturer and salesman.
Craig is more than a weaver, picking up the skill in the early months after Y2k and running forward with ambition and a dream to make a truly unique mark on a part of the industry that does not value a standard that is par none. His jump from aluminium and timber work to the artisan craft of weave, was something that was inspired by the locals, whilst his father, whose dream was for his son to be a lawyer, is just a son that dreamed of being like his dad.
We weave ourselves into things and people and Craig is a clear testament to this, intertwined with the simplicities that life has to offer and by doing so empowers not only himself, but a legacy that will live on for many years to come. Carrying on a tradition and making it his own in a modernism that fits itself into an ever changing world, it is clear that a constant reinvention, passion and will of steel are the foundation for remaining loomed into the rhythm of ininity.
We are woven by our experiences, like shaping strands into something tangible that is not merely different, but which also makes a difference
– Craig McAlister, The Weaver, Supplier for SHF
Written for SHF by Keanon D
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