Art that Works

Can this pen save our fynbos from a silent killer? See how a conservationist protects indigenous fynbos with her unique, handmade pens.

In the quaint riverside village of Stanford, a Cape grassbird dances above the budding flowers. Stanford is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town and located very near Grootbos – an eco -paradise we visit on our Garden tours.  With over 9 000 fynbos species, the Overberg region is renowned for its rare and diversified beauty. (See what ”Fynbos” means) 

But a silent killer lurks here. The Port Jackson willow, an alien tree, is threatening the growth and survival of our indigenous flora. Its unique ability to thrive in nutrient-deficient soil, germinate after fires, and propagate large numbers of seeds make it the most aggressive tree in the shrubland. To prevent further invasion in South Africa, a fungus was introduced to weaken the willow. This causes galls – irregular brown swelling on the leaves and stems.

For Di Mohr, co-founder of Stanford Wood Studio, the galls became a reminder of the tree’s devastation. Inspired to save the fynbos, Mohr grabbed a pair of garden shears and gloves, and began chopping down the monstrous knobbly bits of the invasive willow. With the galls, she formed a block consisting of resin, glue, and paint which was sanded down into the final product – a functional, eco-efficient pen.

Mohr’s quirky, hand-crafted creation has since become the talk of the town, demonstrating innovative ways to protect the Cape’s floral kingdom. “It’s difficult to create awareness about conservation, so we need to be creative,” she says. “You can make something environmentally caring and beautiful at the same time.”

Mohr hopes that these unique pens will plant seeds of inspiration in the world, and in time grow sustainable solutions.

Di Mohr

Can her pens save 9 000 fynbos species from an alien invasion?

Posted by Beautiful News South Africa on Monday, 30 March 2020

”We call our workshop in Stanford (South Africa) our Happy Space. It is where we work with wood, machines and our hands to create beautiful art that works (as opposed to works of art). We’ve always been the type of people who, when there’s a choice between the easy way and the hard way, we tend to do it the hard way. Which doesn’t make business sense. But it does make lots of sense when you are making something that you love and hope other people will treasure as much as you do. Look over  Stanford Wood Studio”.

Acknowledgement: Beautiful & Arthur Peuckert for photos

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