The beautiful Kenyan sunshine that has accompanied us for the second part of our trip signals the end to the short rains (for now) and each day we now awake to a cacophony of bird song and the soft sunshine promising yet another bright day.
At the workshop, our finished carvings have been moulded into their sand and molasses casts by Ruben, ready for caster Collins to fill with brass. As we step into Collin’s section of the workshop we are immediately hit by a wall of heat, generated by the white hot furnace in the corner in which he smelts the scrap brass. Beads of sweat form on our upper lips and foreheads as we struggle with the heat while Collins looks remarkably cool and collected, and when we ask him if it’s hot work he simply replies with a shrug and pulls at his jumper and shirt combination beneath his work jacket – clearly not. Ash dances around us and we are all thankful for our safety masks and goggles. He goes on to fill the casts – three at a time – before adding them to the growing pile on the side where they are left to cool.
Once cooled, Collins then tips out the now-formed shape into the ash where it cools further. From there the casted pieces are taken to another part of the workshop where the rough edges are sanded down. Frances and I are then able to assemble the jewellery as per our original designs.
As well as creating casted pieces, we have been working on pieces Alpha XR from brass sheet and wire- cuffs, rings, earrings and pendants. We spend the majority of our time sitting with Sammie and the development team as they work with us on how best to create our designs – all the time patiently showing us the techniques they use to achieve our results. It’s very much an organic process as we work together and very often the team here at the workshop will put their own signature on the pieces we create; the soundtrack to our work our excited squeals as we see piece after piece completed.
Next time we go sourcing treasures from far away lands at Africana House, and brave the crowds to find traditional Kenyan fabrics.