His latest inspiration is former U.S. President Barack Obama.
"You can just take small stones and make something that no one
ever thought of," he told Reuters in the capital Pretoria.
"Even salt companies, they wouldn't say salt is just for food
anymore," he said, crouching over his portrait of Obama on his
dining room floor.
The 31-year-old applies glue to cloth and then sprinkles table
salt to sketch the portrait. Some of the famous faces he has
drawn include global icon Nelson Mandela. Often, he'll chance
his luck with passers by.
"I'll just carry just a black cloth and a bag of salt, then you
can just come and give me 300 rand ($23) and then I'll just
sketch your face, quick," he said. "And for you it's a memory
and you'll never get that anywhere else."
Maimela - who quit his job at a retail store last year to pursue
his craft - said he has loved art since he was a child but could
never afford professional training.
Getting started on a commissioned piece of work requires a tiny
investment of less than 50 US cents for salt and a little extra
for glue. He said he can sell a piece for about $30.
Maimela, who also works in pencil, has not been able to get any
of his work shown in galleries and relies on the Internet to
generate interest in his work.
"Being an artist in total is not easy, because not everyone
understand art and then not everyone is willing to buy art. But
everyone is willing to buy something that's provoking to their
feelings," Maimela said.
($1 = 13.3255 rand)
(Editing by James Macharia and Richard Lough)
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