KZN Midlands, RSA

The Dlamini


Dla’mini Angel created during lockdown …

R295 includes a personal message card and free delivery anywhere* in South Africa 

Click here to mail us your request

Have you thought about how to remember this time.. ? …

Truth is, we have experienced a mix of emotions lately.. uncertainty, fear, gratitude, humbleness and the appreciation for those we love and trust… Covid-19 stopped us in our tracks, opened our eyes to societies across the world and to some very real struggles and challenges. Together we’ve shared in a global crises beyond our imagination.

Many families have lost their source of income, their homes, their faith, and some their lives. But equally, many have found connection, love and hope…. which are the founding principles that started our journey with ‘The Dlamini figurine’ over 20 years ago, and we like to think our little clay people have brought this kind of joy to all who collect or receive them.

…  It was during lock-down, that we felt the need to create something symbolic  

Both Dlamini and Buthelezi work from independent home studios in Sweetwaters, and were fully stocked with clay, so it made complete sense that we use this time to breathe life into something heartfelt, something you would want to own to honour this time, give away as a gift, or simply say ‘thank you’ to someone who reached out or touched your life in a meaningful way.  From the confines of our homes, we were experiencing people doing amazingly generous things for less fortunate communities;  seeing parents now home with their children, teaching and learning together; musicians entertaining  on rooftops;  families sharing recipes; friends reaching out… we were inspired and wanted to symbolise this.

 So it was that our new little ‘Dla’mini angel’ was born.. A symbol of gratitude and hope to mark this time.

  • choice of 5 Raku fired glaze colours White | Grey | Corn | Antique pink | Green
  •  Free personalized message card (max of 70 words please)
  • Free Courier service delivery to recognized South African destinations  in our tailor-made tube packaging  

All you have to do is select a  friend, business or family member (or a gift to yourself) anywhere* across South Africa (*no outlaying rural areas please) Then email your request for invoicing – Please ensure you include the following:

  1. Your name and contact details (incl mobile number) 
  2. Recipient physical address and contact details (incl mobile number)
  3. Choice of glaze colour
  4. Your personalised message (max 70 words). We will do all the rest. !


The Dlamini Story..

Primitive pottery figurines from Africa date back to around 500 BC. The earliest of which were the Nok statuettes made of terracotta clay, combining strong formal elements with a complete disregard for precise anatomy. Their expressive quality is what inspired our now iconic ‘Collectable’, The Dlamini.

the Dlamini, Tim Dlamini, zulu lulu, Dlamini figurines, south african oscarTIM DLAMINI & TIM BUTHELEZI

‘The art of expression’ is what inspired ceramic artist Trayci Tompkins to design and create a range of Raku-fired ruler high clay sculptures for her then once a week employee Tim Dlamini and his friend, Tim Buthelezi.

For these quiet, deep-thinking men from the local rural community, it was a perfect match. They quickly learnt the art of clay sculpture and have since created a reputation within their own communities and families.


The Dlamini, Stuart Tompkins, Trayci Tompkins, Raku fired, Clay figurines, The South African Oscar, Midlands Meander, Tim, clay Dolls, The Dlamini dollsWorking full time from his home studio in Sweetwaters, near Pietermaritzburg, Tim Dlamini  hand-models hollow clay balls into expressive little faces and quirky sculpture headpieces or ‘thoughts’. These little heads are then carefully transported across the hills to the compact bespoke studio of Tim Buthelezi whose role it is to ‘build the bodies’ starting with a hollow clay tube . It is here, among the homestead surrounded by chickens and goats, and the neighbouring cows, that the family of clay figurines are born,

Once complete, The Dlamini’s are dried out in the African sunshine, then packed into modified chicken crates and transported back to the Tompkins’ studio for firing. 


the dlamini, stuart tompkins, raku firing,

Stuart balances his time between firing, packing and dispatching Dlamini’s… and he’s often found head first in the smokey surrounds of his Dlamini production. Firing Dlamini’s is not for the faint-hearted but Stuart has it down to a fine art.

After an initial firing to strengthen the clay, The Dlamini’s are covered in specially-formulated colour glazes and stacked 12 at a time into an outdoor ‘top hat’ kiln.

the dlaminis, the dlamini, raku firing, time dlamini, stuart tompkins, midlands meander

A gas flame burner is then steadily increased to heat the kiln to a temperature of 1000 degrees which melts the glaze. The Dlamini’s are then placed into a bed of sawdust and other combustibles. It’s in this burning wood smoke that the magic happens; altering oxides and crackling the glaze into random surface effects whilst turning unglazed areas black.

This method of Raku, with its spontaneous and random patterned surface, creates an artistic element to each piece and ensures that no two are ever the same.

The joy for our small team of makers, is knowing that in almost every country across the globe there’s a Dlamini standing proudly in someone’s home or office. They are given as gifts, awarded to top achievers, sportsmen and women or simply collected by Art lovers to fill their homes… We thank you all for your continued support..




KZN | ZULU LULU Art House, Midlands

KZN | Gaze Gallery, Ramsgate

KZN | Embo Craft Centre, Hillcrest

KZN | NSA Gallery, Durban

KZN | IMBIZO Gallery, Ballitoville

JOHANNESBURG | Mot Mot, Parkhurst



Looking to stock a range of The Dlamini figurines for your outlet, B&B or next function ? Orders in excess of 9 clay Dlamini’s qualifies you for a special wholesale price.  Contact Stuart Tompkins to discuss your order. Email


SAA, Nedbank, Nashua,  Drakensburg Boys Choir, PCB Chamber of commerce and The Midlands Literary Festival are a few of the organisations who have awarded bespoke Dlamini figurines to their top achievers or clients..

You can too, with Custom made Dlamini’s for corporates that retain their individual artistic feel.  A variety of glaze colours to suit your are available. Contact us today to discover what’s possible.  Contact Stuart Tompkins. Email

Follow The Dlamini on Facebook here.


We appreciate all the media coverage The Dlamini continues to receive in print media and magazines. Should you wish to tell our story to your readers, please contact Trayci Tompkins on Email.