Who would have thought that something as simple a strelitzia seed pod would give a retrenched Salt Rock man the business opportunity of a lifetime.
You could very well call Peter Shanley an innovative opportunist who not only has a creative eye, but plans to help others make a living through his breathtaking ‘lockdown lights’.
Up until his recent 60th birthday, Peter was a highly successful project manager, working on some of the North Coast’s most upmarket homes in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
But lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic struck and, as Peter puts it, ‘times got really tough’.
“I was out of a job,” says the single-parent of two sons, Alistair and Connor, who both live in Germany.
But creativity sparked like wildfire within Peter, and ever since then he has put his hands to good use making some of the most unique decorative lights ranging from string lights to chandeliers – all while using strelitzia seed pods as bulb holders.
With nothing but time, and ‘bright’ ideas, on his hands Peter continues to expand on his designs.
“About 450 to 500 seed pods go into one of my 650mm chandeliers,” he says.
While it may take Peter as long as three weeks to make a single one of these, he says that despite being time consuming, it has proven to be therapeutic.
“It is like putting a puzzle together. Each pod must be balanced with the others facing it in size and position to form a cluster – just the way you see them growing in the wild on strelitzia plants.”
As for expanding on his designs, Peter says he has started making bedside table units and 300mm ball-type units.
These can either be hung from a ceiling, or fixed.
Peter, whose motto in life is to ‘light up people’s lives’ says that he hopes to soon rent a factory and create employment for some of the many who are now jobless, like he was.
It would be no surprise if business proves to be fruitful, owing to each of his creations having been sold well before they were even finished.
If you’d like to follow Peter’s Bushlight Chandelier adventure, check out his Facebook page at @petersbushlights.
This article by Juan Venter first appeared in the North Coast Courier and is republished here with kind permission.