Visiting the Kazuri Bead Factory in Nairobi, Kenya
August 18, 2021
Although it is referred to as the Kazuri Bead Factory, it is really an artisan workshop where the beads for necklaces and bracelets as well as other pottery are created. Everything created by the artisans for Kazuri are handmade and hand-painted based on a preset pattern that each of the workers follow. In addition to creating beautiful jewelry and pottery, Kazuri provides work for mostly single mothers and provides free medical care for their employees and their immediate family. Buying items from Kazuri, which are sold worldwide, is really an opportunity to get some something beautiful and help the people as well.
It all starts by making the clay which is pressed into blocks, then cut into strips that are scored to create smaller squares. The soft clay is then formed by hand into different size beads for the jewelry, a hole is poked through the center, and then it is kilned to create the hard bead. For the pottery, the clay is formed into bowls, cups, plates, and other forms and then also sent to the kiln to be baked and hardened. After the clay has been baked, it then goes to another set of artisans who began to paint the clay based on the pattern that they are working with. It is up to the individual artist as to whether they would add the base paint, let it dry, and paint any details before sending it to the kiln or whether they would bake it after applying the base paint and then adding the details and baking a final time. Once it is baked with the color, the beads have the shine that one would expect it to have.
The jewelry and pottery created by Kazuri is truly beautiful, but we were certain that we didn’t have the patience to do the detail work by hand that the women of the factory did. We enjoyed walking through the shop after taking a tour of the factory and we did buy a couple of necklaces while we were there. Taking the tour of the Kazuri Bead Factory only takes about an hour, but it is certainly worth the time.