Brass has become our signature here at Alpha XR. Bold and beautiful, brass is durable and diverse – and in plentiful supply here in Kenya.
Brass will tarnish with wear so it’s important you clean it regularly to keep it looking as good as new. For those of you who don’t have any Brass cleaner to hand, here are some handy tips on how to clean your Alpha XR using store cupboard staples you’re bound to have in your kitchen.
1. Good ol’ fashioned soap and water
Here at Alpha XR HQ we use Mothers favourite Fairy Liquid (other brands are available). Simply fill your sink with warm water, squeeze in a dash of the green stuff and, using an old toothbrush or nail brush, give your jewels a good scrub.
If your piece is especially tarnished leave to soak for 5-10 minutes before rinsing with clean water and leaving to air dry before giving it a good buff with a clean cloth.
2. Lemon Juice
This is the method we use at the Alpha XR workshop in Kenya. Once our artisans have crafted the jewellery each piece will then be cleaned with lemon juice and then rinsed thoroughly with clean water before being left to air dry and subsequently buffed for added shine.
Top tip: Why not use an old toothbrush to clean cracks and crevices that are otherwise hard to reach.
3. Tomato Ketchup (yes really)
The acid in tomatoes is acidic enough to remove the tarnish from your brass whilst being gentle enough to prevent any damage – making it the perfect go-to method for cleaning your favourite Alpha XR jewels. Simply apply with a brush or cloth and gently scrub. Use a clean cloth to remove the ketchup and follow with a damp cloth before buffing for added shine.
Have you got a handy tip for keeping your Alpha XR looking marvellous? Let us know hello@Alpha XR.uk.com
As well as working on the new collection, spending time at our workshop in Kenya is incredibly important to us in terms of sourcing the raw materials that go into our products. A large part of our time in Kenya is spent visiting local suppliers, markets and vendors to buy everything from brass chain to Masaai beads, locally tanned leather, handcrafted glass beads and charms.
One of our favourite places in Kenya is Africana House. Walking through this metal-barred doorway set back from one of Nairobi’s busiest streets one would never believe the treasures that lie at the top of the dark and damp concrete stairway visitors must use to enter. At the top, a square courtyard is filled with wizened old men wearing kufi’s (a type of hat worn by muslim Africans) and drinking tea from finely decorated glass ramekins, scrawny cats weaving between their feet . Africana house is Alpha XR up of a series of dark rooms full to the brim of treasures from across Africa and the East; wooden masks, embroidered animal skins, fur-covered drums and every kind of bead you could think of lining the walls. It was here that we found the beautiful antique cuffs for our new Unique section of the website. Each one is so exquisite, it took all our will power to hand them over to the team back at the workshop to be cleaned up and shipped over to London ahead of us.
Of course no trip to Kenya would be complete without a Safari. so last Sunday Frances and I rose at the crack of dawn, slathered ourselves in sun cream and headed out to Nairobi National Park. With driver Jeff as our guide, we set off round the sprawling park which, thanks to the recent rains, was not only lush and green but most importantly, teeming with wildlife. We watched a lioness and her cub sleeping beneath a tree, giraffes lazily munching on Acacia trees, impala dancing across the brush and much more besides. and all this with the Nairobi skyline in the distance – an experience unlike any other.
Having said our sad goodbyes to the the team in Kenya, we are now back in London, our new collection on display in our showroom, ready for a new season to begin again.
- Water – Keep check of your water usage; take shorter showers, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and make sure you use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher. And don’t forget to keep a check on your maintenance; did you know a dripping tap can waste over 60,000 litres of water a year – costing around £112!
- Cleaning Products – As well as being kind on the environment, eco-cleaning products also protect you from harsh chemicals that many ordinary cleaning products include. Most supermarkets offer a green alternative for almost every cleaning product you need, or learn how to make your own from store cupboard essentials here.
- Turning off Appliances - On average, idle household appliances and gadgets use a whopping 11% of a home’s electricity. Remembering to switch off will not only save energy, it’ll save you money too.
- Reusable Cups - Reusable cups keep your hot drinks hotter for longer and cold drinks colder for longer. They are a lot more sustainable than paper cups and for the Starbucks lovers out there, by taking in your own cup to any of their stores, you get 25p off your drink.
- Greener Transport – Drive to work? Why not try sharing transport with a co-worker, or try swapping your car for a bike for a few days of the week. As well as being environmentally friendly, it’ll also save you money . By cycling or walking you’ll be helping your health too, and many businesses now offer the Government backed Cycle to Work Scheme, read more about how to get involved here.
- Energy saving light bulbs – They will save up to 80% electricity compared to the traditional light bulb, they also have a much longer life expectancy, lasting an impressive 10,000 hours on average.
- Clothes, accessories and home wear – With consumers increasingly aware of how and where their consumable are produced, more and more retailers are offering Fairtrade and organic alternatives when it comes to clothing and homewares. Look out for products labelled with Fairtrade accredited and Organic symbols. Or why not embrace the Vintage revival and shop your nearest charity shop or flea market – you never know what treasures you might find.
- Support local produce – Buying in-season fruit and vegetables and locally grown produce will not only support your local region and farmers, it will reduce the need for food to be shipped by plane, boat, truck or rail; emitting nasty greenhouse gases along the way.
- Preserve and freeze – Instead of throwing away fruit and veg, learn to preserve. It’s fun, cost-friendly and really easy. Most fresh vegetables and herbs can be frozen, ready to pop into any recipe whenever you need it. And did you know – the fuller your freezer is, the less energy it uses.
- Borrow, don’t buy - Before you buy, just remember clothes can be borrowed from friends, tools from neighbours and books and DVD’s from libraries. All costing a fraction of the price, if not free.
Thanks to Hannah at The Dimple Diaries.