I got some great publicity in a community magazine called Get It recently….
INGRID DE HAAST – SOMERSET WEST’S GOLDEN BEAUTY.
“True beauty is certainly more than skin deep. What’s inside you must be beautiful too.
You’ve got to be warm, enthusiastic, passionate about life.”
So says Ingrid de Haast of Somerset West, whose natural beauty made her one of the first Miss South Africa’s. She was crowned in 1953 and today, at the age of 74, she still has the beautiful skin, hair and figure that make her a contender for the Miss Universe title. But more importantly, she exudes a zest for life that radiates from within.
As a naïve 19 year old she won the Miss South Africa crown and with it a three month contract at Universal Studios in Hollywood. She appeared as an extra in two films and met many of the stars of that time, among them Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis and David Niven. “The Hollywood life was glamorous, but it was not for me,” says Ingrid, who was happy to return home to a year of modeling, public engagements and the second highlight of her reign – attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
In November 2007, 54 years later, Ingrid set aside her role of mother and grandmother and took on the mantle of beauty queen again. She led the parade of 33 former Miss South Africas at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Miss South Africa pageant. She wore a perfectly-fitting turquoise gown created specially for her by Cape Town designer, Kobus Dippenaar. She and Bill, her husband of 53 years, spent a luxurious weekend at The Palace hotel, enjoying every part of the preparations and then the glittering pageant itself.
While her past experiences may have been glamorous and exciting, Ingrid is quick to point out that her life at present is even more exciting. What does she put this down to?
It’s my passion for glass,” says Ingrid. “I’m a member of the International society of Glass Bead Artists and one of a handful of South African glass artists. For me, it is one of the most creative and personally fulfilling art forms. I love colour and am inspired by the beauty of flowers and the combination of colours in Nature. To re-create that in glass is my purpose and my challenge.”
For over 20 years Ingrid made her name as a potter. For many of those years she longed to work in glass, but could not find a local teacher. Eventually she sold all her pottery equipment to fund a trip to Johannesburg to do her first course in glass beading. And a whole new world opened up for her.
Ingrid demonstrates the intricate process involved in creating the beautiful translucent beads. All the glass rods are imported from America and the names are as delightful as the colours – Caramel Lustre, Tequila Sunrise, Jupiter – and even Elvis, a deep-glowing red. She wears special glasses when working with the gas-fired torch, making the glass as soft as honey, deftly twisting the strands of colour together, adding layer upon layer.
Special tools are used to make decorative effects and before one’s very eyes the rods of glass become miniature gardens, delicate hearts, exotic leaves. The beads are placed in a kiln at a temperature of 590 degrees Celcius and then allowed to cool. Ingrid’s enthusiasm for her work is infectious. “I can’t wait to come into my studio every morning to open up the kiln to see each unique bead I made the day before.” They are then carefully cleaned and inspected for flaws and then assembled into beautiful necklaces and bracelets or made into letter openers, wine bottle stoppers or essential oil vessels.
“It’s all about heat and gravity,” explains Ingrid. “And also timing and patience. You cannot rush things – the glass takes its own time.” She also stresses the need for practice. “You cannot master these techniques in a day. But even if you make mistakes, nothing is wasted. You have learnt by it and the beads that are not perfect can be crushed into tiny pieces called frit, which are then be added to other beads to give variety and interest.”
The demands of working in glass provide Ingrid with constant stimulation. She travels to America every year to attend courses to advance her skills and regularly searches the Internet for inspiration from other glass bead artists. A Christmas gift of a portable DVD player means that she can follow the instructions from world class teachers while she works in her own studio. The opportunity to be learning, experimenting and mastering new techniques is what keeps Ingrid fascinated by this art form.
Apart from benefiting from thoroughly enjoying her work in the glass studio, Ingrid’s zest for life is a consequence of her disciplined and healthy habits. Three times a week at 6.30 am she sets off at a brisk pace to walk a 6 km route, including some uphill stretches.
She then eats a breakfast of homemade granola, packed full of omega-rich seeds, with yoghurt. Lunch is the main meal of the day and supper is always light. Ingrid’s enviably slim figure is proof that her eating and exercise plan is one that makes -and keeps – her fit and healthy.
She attributes her beautiful skin to good genes inherited from her grandmother, but has a disciplined skin care routine. “I never cleanse my face with water, only creams, but I do not use the most expensive products on the market. I use a Vitamin E cream every day on the eye area,” says Ingrid.
Inspiring, enthusiastic, patient, caring. These are all words that describe Ingrid de Haast. They make her more beautiful than her lovely features. It is, as she says, the beauty that comes from within that makes the difference.
INFORMATION ON INGRID
Favourite colours: pinks and amethyst
Most creative time of the day: the afternoons
Relaxes by: watching the soaps
Favourite movie star: Greer Garson
Favourite restaurant: 96 Winery Rd
What she’d order: Fish
Can’t live without: the Internet.
Beauty tip: remove all make up before you go to bed. And drink plenty of water.
SEE THE BEADS FOR YOURSELF
Visit Ingrid’s website at www.glassbeads.co.za
Or phone 021-851 6166 to make an appointment to see her at her Somerset West studio.
Watch out for her at local craft markets and exhibitions.