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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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Crafting through mental illness

A pot he refurbished and a plant he took from a tree and grew himself. SUPPLIED

A pot he refurbished and a plant he took from a tree and grew himself. SUPPLIED

Published Jul 2, 2022


Canisters he painted and refurbished. SUPPLIED
Key rings made by Jan Hendrik Ronald Gideon Scheepers.

Cape Town - With his nimble fingers he sits and creates works of art.

He may have mental disabilities which hinder him from working but that does not deter him from doing what he loves which is creating crafts with his hands. He uses beads and scraps that he can get his hands on. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty when he plants and decorates pot plants.

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His name is Jan Hendrik Ronald Gideon Scheepers from Eerste River.

“The arts and crafts I do are not only for me but to see the smiles on a person’s face once they receive it. I have given a lot of what I have made away or just blesses someone that appreciates it. Money is no reward. I love to take on discarded or broken and old things and try give it new life, new meaning and a second chance.”

He tries to survive on the disability grant he gets every month but sometimes he struggles. He sometimes uses some of the money to feed his passion and will buy beads to create more.

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“The projects I start I make little to no profit. For example just a glass-beaded set of necklace, bracelet and earrings, cost me between R70-R140 plus sometimes and I also add and use gifted and or bartered material yet I sell as my own from R85 -115 max. What beats this is the overwhelming sense of worth and appreciation the clients have, especially that spark in their eyes and the true appreciation for the craft.”

Jan Hendrik Ronald Gideon Scheepers. SUPPLIED

He said in a hopeful tone that the only way he survives is by trying to get a feeling that he has got meaning in life and a sense of belonging.

Scheepers twists and bends wires seamlessly. Looking at what he is making you can see it taking shape. It is a dream catcher.

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“Currently, I’ve got no beading, no craft materials and tools as I’ve unfortunately in a hypomanic state one evening just took everything and I mean everything, even the table I used and chucked it all in the dustbin. Had orders still to do and other different crafts to try but, my bipolar state had the better of me. In short, my feelings emotions and action and behaviour is extremely erratic hence I cannot be labelled a type of bipolar as I experience all the symptoms of different bipolar classifications.”

He creates key chains, dream catchers, pot plants that he makes from scraps and cutting a piece of another plant to grow his own, beautiful necklaces, wreaths and anything else that a client requests.

His hobbies do not end there as he also enjoys writing poetry. He is talented at making wedding cards, and advertisements and loves art and decorating. Scheepers uses YouTube to teach himself new things in relation to crafts and also does needlework.

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Pat Coleman, one of Scheepers’ counsellors at Men’s Art (a shelter for men) described him as a highly intelligent person, very determined and a focused person.

“I have known him for two years. He is extremely creative but not only that, he takes initiative. He is always willing to explore and go forward in life,” said Coleman.

According to some studies, engaging in arts and crafts can be linked to improvement of mental health. Creative activities may help decrease anxiety, stress and deflated moods.

“The South African Depression and Anxiety Group often encourages individuals living with mental health conditions to participate in different activities like arts, music, volunteer work, writing to enhance mental wellbeing,” said Fatima Seedat development manager at Sadag.

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