The Making Of
When we took on the challenge of building a business based on heritage, we also knew that we had an obligation to do that heritage justice. To achieve this, we first had to first do away we the usual stereotypical portrayals of African heritage and then come up with something that was fresh yet still true to its roots. That wasn’t a task for the faint hearted!
Getting the “material”
The choice of materials used to create our products was in no way accidental. Selecting the particular clay used in the creation of our beautiful ceramic beads was a strategic decision. Sourced exclusively from bottom of Mount Kenya it’s tempting to say that using this clay as the core raw material for our collection was a “no brainer” but actually, a lot of brain power went into the decision and after extensive research we chose it because of it’s unique properties which allow it to withstand extreme temperatures whilst remaining easy to work with. You see, to create perfection you have to pay attention to every single detail.
So we wanted to rewrite the rulebook, whilst still sticking to the rules and this meant months of research into not just materials but also techniques. We had to question everything and absorb what was literally, generations worth of knowledge. So we turned to the most obvious tutors – the technicians and craftspeople that, with years of experience under their belts were best placed to take us on this journey of creation.
They generously shared their knowledge, patiently talking us through the process or preparing and refining the clay, removing every impurity before fermenting the prepared paste for 2 to 3 days. They showed us how they gradually squeezed out the water that had been used to filter the clay, leaving a thicker but smoother paste ready for all the air pockets to be pumped out. All this to ensure the end result is a faultless, exquisite bead.
If the technique sounds lengthy and complex, it’s because it is. Any process refined and adjusted over the years can’t help but be complicated as each generation tweaks and perfects the practice making it relevant for the current age. Like we said – heritage is a living thing.
It takes a village…
The Chanzo collection is our beginning, our “first born” and true to our roots we believe that it takes a village to raise a child. So right from start we surrounded ourselves with partners and collaborators at the very top of their game as well as those (to borrow an over used phrase) who think outside of the box. In Kazuri, we worked with technicians who have been in the ceramics trade for decades. Peter Elungat, the brilliant self taught artist who created the art collection that accompanies the Chanzo collection, has his own unique style that makes his work stand out whilst still remaining relatable. At every stage of the production process we sought out and partnered with people with the same attitude as ours – That to present these vessels of heritage to the world, to truly do that heritage justice, we should always be seeking the holy grail of perfection in everything we do.
And with all this great talent surrounding the Chanzo collection, we expect that our baby will not only thrive, it will achieve greatness!