Craft training


Although Imbali was founded to address the inequities in creative education in schools during the time of apartheid, about thirteen years ago we also began to address directly another issue facing South Africa: the crisis of poverty and unemployment.

We were called upon more and more to set up training programmes for youth and adults toward income-generation, in which creative potential could be developed toward productive and constructive careers in craft and design. We have worked in product-development and skills-development programmes in Mpumalanga with woodcarvers and bead workers, in juvenile detention centres in Mogale district, in Diepsloot and in Jo’burg’s inner city with unemployed women and men, and full-time in Kagiso township west of Johannesburg from 2000 to 2009. Since 2010 our main crafts training studio has been located in the Bus Factory in Newtown.

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When Imbali first established its skills development programme in Kagiso in 1999, it was the only programme of its kind in the area. Now we are situated in Newtown and it is still is the only crafts training programme in the area, and the most consistently successful.


Our crafts training objectives:

  • To provide crafts training to the unemployed and youth at risk

  • Develop specific skills that encourage and enable economic independence

  • Develop craftspeople and designers that can set up sustainable, long-term, income-generating work thereafter

  • Provide basic business and marketing skills appropriate to this industry

  • Develop self-confidence and a sense of individual worth, leading to self-reliance through the acquisition of skills

  • Facilitate in developing creative imagination and originality of design

  • Build craft-teaching capacity through educational training

  • Promote awareness of South Africa’s diverse and varied cultural heritage in the community

  • Provide access to outlets for sustainable marketing and selling

  • Encourage and support superb craftsmanship, and instill concepts of quality


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Statements from our current students

‘When I first came to Imbali I thought they only taught drawing. But I found out that they make many things that I did not know I could do. Now I am in my third year and am able to teach other people what I am learning from Imbali. Imbali is a very good project and if I was to come back I would. I have learned a lot more than I thought and it has made me understand what art is and how to speak though it.’ 
Katlego Chuene


‘What I like about this course is that we learn everything that is art and Imbali is the best art school ever.’Daniel Mwale


‘This course is giving me all good skills that I want in life. I am learning all kinds of handwork. Imbali is a project that helps people who need skills.’ Thapelo Mokgwelwa


‘I am proud about this school because they give me more skills so that I can do many things. I would like to thank my facilitators for everything that they have done for me all year. They have given me life skills too. Imbali Visual Literacy Project is so good it helps many people. I love art and design.’ Nduvhuwo Makhumisane


‘I enjoy screen-printing because I learn how to print on fabric. Tie-dye I also enjoy and weaving. I am happy to be on this course because I learn many things.’ Motlalepule Mosekoa


Read our Success Stories for examples of the extraordinary successes of our current students and graduates.

Prince business skills workshop for Imbali students

On the 29th of March Prince and Andrew Miller conducted a crafts business skills workshop for second and third year Imbali students as well as the Imbali Incubator Group. The workshop took place in the Unity Gallery space, in the midst of Prince's spectacular and inspiring Mthakathi exhibition. This venue for the workshop really added to its overall impact.   The workshop was received very well by our students and the information imparted was of great use to them. Not only was the content relevant but also it was conveyed in a very accessible and meaningful way.

Here are some excerpts of letters written by two students about the workshop:

'I Christopher Mdlane from Imbali would like to thank Unity Gallery and the NAC for giving me the business skills and advice on the crafts industry. From me to Prince, thank you so much for the jewellery making as well. I learned that to start your own business you need to work very hard. Thank you again!' Christopher Mdlane

'Prince's workshop was amazing; I never thought a spoon could be changed into jewellery like a ring or earrings. Prince taught us how to bend a spoon and make it change into a bracelet. I struggled to bend it but when the time came I started to enjoy twisting and turning the spoon.   I was then taught how to understand the artist I am and know where I want to see myself in ten years to come. I would like to have more workshops with Prince. His work got me thinking; I now look at spoons and forks in a different way.' Katlego Chuene

Imbali Newtown Studios

We train at our studios in Newtown on a full-time basis – all students coming in five days a week. We train courses in:

  • Crafts techniques (including textile and ceramic design among others);

  • Craft production;

  • Craft Enterprise and Craft Business skills;

  • Museum education;

  • Counselling skills,

  • Literacy and numeracy.

We teach approximately 45 students per year at three levels, each student going through a three-year programme. Over these years we have built up a large and valuable infrastructure of equipment, tools, materials, and machinery, and have a strong, experienced and excellent staff. These are resources, both physical and in terms of established expertise, that are absolutely invaluable.

Training photos


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