All posts by Emile Manfeldt

Bookreview: Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

To be or not t be; that is the question.

How apt is this quote from Hamlet. After reading this book I discovered how little we actually know about Shakespeare. It is almost unthinkable that we know almost nothing about , what most people will see as, the greatest writer ever in the English language ( and even as the greatest writer in any language!)

In fact, there is so little known about him that there are even people saying that somebody without at least university training can have such genius as to change the way that English is spoken today.

Even the image we know as Shakespeare today is somebody that we assume might have been the great man. it is shocking to think, that if friends and colleagues of Shakespeare did not put together a folio of his plays some years after his death, that most of his output would have been forgotten or totally lost today. He himself never had any of his works published. They were written, performed and then discarded. Even if the plays were popular and he was well known as a playwriter. his plays were not seen as something worth keeping for later generations.

Even though we think that his work is still original, clever and witty today, it must have been even better in his day where he incorporated referrals to politics and gossip of the day into the script. Remarks we will not be able to grasp or understand.

I often read Bill Bryson books as light fiction, slightly tongue in cheek, but I really enjoyed this one. It made me realize that genius is no guarantee to be remembered. How much poorer we would have been if the great treasure of Shakespeare plays would have been lost .

The very idea of it will let me start reading all my favorites again.

Small etchings

I created a collection of small etchings. Each of them not much larger than a postage stamp. The process was absolutely facinating, The artworks are relatively small and one could still put in beautifully fine detail. As the plates are so small I could ink up and polish each plate to end up with an unique artpiece .

I used the drypoint techneque exclusively and after finishing several more series I am still discovering new ways of exploiting the medium .

With Covid and its aftermath chanses to exhibit was very limited. So I decided to have an online sale. The advantages of this is that there are no gallery fees . You can buy artwork for a really good price! The disadvantages are that the buyer cansee the art works (unless you visit me in my studio) and that we can’t enjoy a glass of wine together at the exhibition opening.

The artworks will sell at R 250,00 each . contact me here or on facebook messenger if you are interisted.

Etching gallery

Book Making Course

I had the great opportunity lately to join George Wentzel for a course on book binding. It was so refreshing to do something so totally out of your daily experience.

I always loved books, especially if they are well bound. for many years I have been keeping a travel journal and lately, started keeping, what I call, a visual journal. In it comes creative thoughts, random sketches and experimental art stuff, combined by special memories. (Even as much as a wine bottle label that is special and I will include the company I had when I drank it. Wine is always a social event in our house.)

Sketch books available in shops are so expensive, often poorly bound for intensive use, and the quality of paper often not up to the standard I need for the art media I use. I have been making my own style of journals for many years with better quality drawing paper. These I cover with leather and often a combination of leather and upholstery material.
My journals gives me endless joy,


I always knew that I do not really know what I am doing when making books.

Along comes an opportunity for book binding and I jumped at the opportunity. George is an incredible teacher. We started off with blank papers and ended up with professionally bound books. They do not even look handmade!

Half bound book

We were taught bookbinding, ways to sew the parts of a book together and how to apply endpapers and then bind the book together with the mall. Only now did we start preparing the covers.

We were taught to do all, from paper, material to leather binding, as well as quarter- and half binding that I found fascinating.

It was a joyous experience. Does anybody want to learn how to do it too?

Daylight Robbery

Daylight robbery

With the building of the new house, or should I start again with: when planning to build a home, all sorts of interesting developments tend to crop up.

After plans were drawn up I was surprised to hear about the new law that prescribes the percentage of windows that is allowed in any specific room in a house, especially where western and eastern windows are concerned.This is to ensure optimal energy consumption in the home.

While this makes sense in an economic unit I think it should be my choice if I bought property that would enable me to have a home with an incredible view, I should be able to build the house of my dreams with the view of my dreams. Why should I be penalized because of a new law if all the houses in the area is not compliant, because they were built before the new law was written. I did take a lot of precautions already, but I don’t want to give up on having a great view.

While I was pondering this Frederika asked me an interesting question. “Where does the saying: Daylight robbery come from.” I had no idea.

Apparently in England people, in the late Middle Ages, were taxed for the amount of glass windows that they could afford to have in their homes. This forced many of them to have either very small windows or even no windows at all in some rooms. It led to very dark interiors even in daylight hours. Hence the term; Daylight Robbery.

This new law that prohibits bigger windows make me want to proclaim out loud that this is absolute daylight robbery! Is

The facades

After several meetings with the architect we are at a point where we can start talking about “our house” with a picture of what it might look like in my mind. I have a very visual brain. I tend to visualize things in images. I can only properly think of things if I can see what it should look like.

The first stage of planning was floor space and how to accommodate it in the slope of the land without too much excavation. Seeing that we had very specific needs it took us some time to get to the ideal. With great excitement we reached a step in the planning that we were happy with. It meant that we had to go back several times to “the drawing board “ and to start all over again. Especially the kitchen had great challenges as we have very specific needs there. Above all, we do not want to make the place too big.

Once again, I am impressed with how much thinking goes into simplicity. We have such set ideas of what things should be like, that it takes imagination to change ideas in your head. At last our floor plan was finished. We are satisfied with traffic flow through the more public spaces, enough light, cross ventilation, sun angles summer and winter, views, wind direction not to talk about things like storage space privacy in certain areas and a thousand other small concerns important to us. That includes studio space for me, a home office for Frederika and even a small place for woodwork and a tinkering place for me to play in.

Even with the house spread over ( technically) four levels, we still planned it that we would need to use the stairs in our direct living space as little as possible, as we plan to live there into old age if we are fortunate enough to have that luxury. It means that living area, main bedroom and garages are on one level. (I am not going to carry groceries up and down flights of stairs if I can help it!)

So far so good! The next step was the design of the facades. What a shock to see that the perfect house looks just like all the other new houses in the area. I do not really know what I expected, but always having lived in older houses in Worcester this modern monster did not fit into my picture of home. I brooded for 24 hours before I accepted that I actually opted for something totally new ( that might also be translated as modern).

I sat down thinking about what upset me and then started to redesign the look by lining up windows and creating unified lines and areas of contrast in color and texture. Fortunately the architect is a patient man. The next set of plans were perfect.