Practicing the gift economy

John  Seymour in his The New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency says that:

“We find that we no longer place the same importance on artifacts and gadgets that other people do. Also – every time we buy some factory- made article we wonder what sort of people made it – if they enjoyed making it or if it was just a bore – what sort of life the maker, or makers, lead … As far as we can we import our needs from small and honest craftsmen and tradesmen. We subscribe as little as we can to the tycoons, and the Ad-men, and the boys with their expense accounts.” [i]

Today I am giving away a bag, but I thought I should tell you a little about this bag and how it came to be. It started with a wonderful young man called Dylan McGarry, who was part of organizing an event called COP. I am not sure how to describe COPART, it was more than an exhibition or an art show, it was a happening. These amazing young people travelled trains across the city and country enlightening people about climate change in preparation for COP 17 in Durban and, incidentally, bringing art to the streets and out of the galleries.  You can read more about them on

“One” beads on leather

I thought I should support such a worthy effort and promised to make bead works for the COPART events. I suppose it has come across in these blogs that I am a bit of a craft nut, I love making things which combine beauty of form and function.  I thought here was something I could do. For most of 2011, every climate change workshop I went to, I was making beads. In honour of COPART, these were recycled beads left over from past projects, and leather scraps, so I had lots of fun being completely anarchic with colour and size. My favourite was “One”.  Each bead symbolizes an individual. Combined together in different shapes and colours the weaving became strong, showing the importance of identity. The tapestry as a whole said “one”, meaning that together we can create new meanings from old bits and pieces which had been considered useless. And, of course that the thread of life binds us, without it we are just miscellaneous, and so we had better get together and do something about climate change.

Well, I got so carried away with these beads I never finished them in time for COP. They are done now, and I am giving away a beaded leather bag to whoever orders a gift bag of soaps and oils from me first.

You will love the gift bag, it is a nice way to sample the things I make and decide what you like. It contains one of each product in my range and costs R 140 plus delivery. A gift bag contains:

50 ml liquid soap Extra Moisturizing

50 ml liquid soap Gently Antiseptic

1 bar Buchu Soap

1 bar Baby Buchu Soap

10 ml Body Butter

10 ml Buchu Oil

10 ml Extra Strength Buchu Oil

But don’t worry, even if you are not the first to order, I have another “One” on green canvas I will be giving away with the second order. If you are slow to order, every gift bag comes with a recyclable cloth bag made from scrap material. Each one is different, and each one shows how we can make new meaning from quiet places.

So spoil yourself this week and give yourself a long, hot, buchu  bath or shower! It will strengthen you to arise and create meaning.

Order from

Together we can make meaning matter

[i] Dorling Kindersley, 1976, pp. 17.

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3 thoughts on “Practicing the gift economy

  1. Gray says:

    Didn’t know where else to comment, but just wanted to say thanks to your healing balm the holes inflicted upon my face by a sharp-toothed attacker (and which went right through) less than a year back have healed so well I look almost as good as new. Thanks Yvette – Gray Maguire

  2. livinginsoul says:

    While actor Bryan Cranston as chemistry teacher turned bad boy “Walter White” (due to a diagnosis of cancer) cooks up a batch of illegal substances to save his life, Khoelife owner Dr Yvette Abrahams indulges in cooking up very legal brews of all kinds of wonderful and healthy stuff for your body and soul that not only saves your life but enhances it too!! 🙂

    I had the pleasure of receiving as a gift, a container of Dr Abrahams’ Buchu Oil a few months ago on the eve of my departure for the Northern Hemisphere. I’d had the privilege of using some of this oil a at the beginning of this year (2013) when Dr Abrahams let me use some of her personal supply, so to receive my own full container was a sheer delight!

    I have used Dr Abrahams’ Buchu Oil for dry, chapped skin on my hands and feet, fingers and toes, arms and legs, face, ears, abdomen and just about anywhere else, really! – with satisfying results. My skin seems to enjoy the obvious nourishment it receives from this product. I have even used it on my pet chihuahua’s paw that he scraped on the pavement outside – he seemed suitably soothed by it. Apart from dry skin, my experience is that is also helps with supporting the healing of superficial cuts and grazes on fingers, toes, elbows, knees and such.

    This morning, I expanded its use (no, I did not brush my teeth with it, although I was seriously tempted!!): I massaged it all over my body before I had a bath. I covered every nook and cranny, every curve and corner, every dangling bit with the oil. I got the idea from the ancient (and still currently practised) Indian healing tradition called Ayurveda. When feeling like you’re in need of some soothing, TLC or you are spinning and ungrounded (including anxious, depressed or stressed), one of the things Ayurvedic medicine recommends is a soothing massage called Abyanga. This is a full-body massage done traditionally with sesame oil (slightly heated up during winter or when feeling cold), and can be done as a self-massage – daily or as often as possible, preferably in the morning. The recommendation is to leave the oil to soak into your skin and to enjoy the nutty, earthy and grounding aroma of the oil before washing it off (if desired, it can be left on for the rest of the day).

    So, I used Dr Abrahams’ Buchu Oil instead of sesame oil this morning for my Abyanga. I rubbed and massaged finger-fulls of it all over my body, including my face, and then soaked in a warm bath using no soaps. I also shaved my 4-day-growth beard with it and the blade glided over my face with such ease that I am definitely going to use it to shave again as the sensation and results as a shaving medium were stunning! I washed the oil off my body with the bath water and as I did so, was surrounded by the grassy, earthy aroma of buchu which eased my mind and my senses and connected me with my roots in South Africa. The soothing smell of fynbos cannot be beat!! Even my European partner finds the smell of the oil nurturing. Now that I know the Buchu Oil can be used for Abyanga’s as well, I shall definitely reach for it before any other aromatic and healing natural oil.

    I think that in the same way “Vaseline” and “Vicks” became household items and commonly so commonly used that we have integrated these brand names into our everyday language, “Dr Abrahams’ Buchu Oil” will (and should) soon become just such a commonly used and integrated item – for our bodies, our minds, our souls, our planet and our language!

    So Yvette: thank you for donning your witches’ hat and stirring up this gorgeous Buchu Oil. Now we need to get your products into Europe ASAP! One last thing: Please try to come up with some toothpaste 😉

    Lots of love,
    Clint Steenveld

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