I have a superpower, and it’s the ability to get hopelessly lost whenever I’m in Port Louis.
And this is despite the fact that I walk around, phone-in-hand, following Google Maps like a first-time tourist, instead of striding confidently to my destination the way that someone who’s lived here for 14 years should be able to do!
Usually it makes me curse my woeful sense of direction, but every now and then, getting lost pays off, and I stumble across a hidden gem of a shop.
Annoyingly, I almost always forget to take note of where it was, and never find it again.
Like the little Chinese shop I found last year which sells raffia in bulk, as well as a million other things that are all crammed into a small dimly-lit space that looks more like a hoarder’s shed than a shop.
But whilst shopping in Port Louis last week, I took a wrong turn and ended up right in front of it again! Even more amazing is that I recognised it from the outside, as due to Covid safety precautions, customers aren’t allowed into the tight space – hence the chain across the doorway…
In case you’re interested, it’s on Queen St, near number 23 (I think it’s near the corner of Corderie St, but don’t quote me on that!). And now that I think about it, Li Sing Kok may not be the name of the shop, but of the one next door.
Are you beginning to understand how it is that I always get lost?
The raffia is pre-bundled, and sold by weight.
My new bundle was just over 2lbs:
And this is all that remains of my first bundle which was even bigger:
So take a wild guess at what you’re about to see!
Most of these projects involve attaching lengths of raffia to a piece of string, or to a metal or wooden ring, using the larks head knot – always do it while watching tv or chatting to a friend, or the tediousness of it will drive you crazy!
Or make it:
I already had a mirror glued to MDF so I simply hot-glued my strung raffia to the edge, then added a row of jute cord to hide the small gap that was left.
A company called Timber and Torch were selling these wall hangings a couple of years ago , so I decided to make something similar:
Buy it for USD178:
Or make it:
I made two strings of larks head knots, adding wooden and air dry clay beads to the smaller one.
I tied them to small hooks screwed into the bottom of a piece of pine which I’d stained dark brown, and added some gold foil to.
I then wrapped the shafts of feathers with raffia, and tied them on.
I tied another one to a guava branch, adding air dry clay beads and more feathers:
This video shows you the basics, which you can then customise to make your own version:
I saw these two DIYs on Dossier Blog and decided to combine them to make myself a boho tree last Christmas.
I added white pompoms to the tree, and bits of white wicker to the star.
I liked it so much I briefly considered being like one of those Mauritian shops that leave their faded and dusty Christmas decorations in their window display for years on end.
But sense and good taste prevailed.
Dossier Blog: Raffia Christmas Tree
Dossier Blog: Raffia Star
When I was in the US a few years ago, I went to a Dollar Tree store (Americans, you are so lucky!), where I proceeded to fill what space was left in my suitcases after my art supply and food purchases, with all the things I didn’t know I wanted until I saw them priced at only a dollar each.
Including placemats that looked good to my greedy little eyes in the shop, but cheap and nasty in the bright Mauritian sun.
So I painted them using a baking powder and white acrylic paint mix, and turned them into wall hangings.
Lone Fox – the relevant part starts at 12.10
I added wooden beads and a swirl of raffia to the centre of this one:
and little air dry clay balls to this one:
If you don’t want to lose hours of your life tying bits of raffia to string, another option is to use hot glue to attach the raffia as shown in the second project in this video starting at 3.34.
You can use this method if you’re attaching the raffia to the back of something, or covering the glued ends with rope or a trim of some sort.
I have a few more projects lurking around, but I suspect you’re probably all raffia-ed out by now, so I’ll leave you with photos of another shop I once found in Port Louis when lost, although it’s one I hope never to see again.
It must be the most terrifying toy shop in existence – its window display looks like a post-apocalyptic Chucky movie!
I have no idea how long these dolls have been there, but they’ve put me off ever sitting in the sun again!
The boys should have borrowed Santa’s blackout glasses.
And watch out – this one’s coming for you – lucky they restrained him with that rope!
Eek – I think her eye’s melting!