Friday, February 4, 2011

Kenyan Jewelry

I just posted some great Kenyan paper bead jewelry in the Etsy shop and I really love it. The beautiful, colorful beads are handmade by girls in Kenya who are mentored by an awesome woman named Sophia Kea. Here's her story, courtesy of the E3 Kids blog:

 These paper bead necklaces are hanging from the tower that holds the water tank at Sophia Kea’s home. Sophia, along with the teenage girls and boys she employs, make all the paper bead jewelry e3Kids sells. Each of her paper bead creations are uniquely made, and it provides stable work for the young girls who would otherwise be married off at a young age and the boys who are unable to attend high school.

Sophia and her husband, Bakari, are standing in her showroom. Bakari is actually the brother of Ngao, Royal Kids School’s founder. Once a piece is finished, she hangs it on this canvas board, or from the roof’s rafters.

At first, Sophia only employed girls who were about to be married off at a young age, whose families were hoping to be supported by the dowry they’d receive.  She’s just started employing boys who have finished eighth grade and whose families have no intention of supporting their education. She’s hopeful they’ll eventually get an opportunity to go to school, but in the mean time, they can come to a safe place to work and earn money.

And now for the bead making process. Mpate is in charge of cutting out the slips of recycled magazine paper that will be rolled into beads. Each slip is cut in the shape of a long, thin triangle.

The slips of paper are put into a central pile, and the rest gather around to roll them into beads. Mwanasiti is in the foreground, and Mwahindo’s hands are also rolling a bead. 

 Once the beads are finished, they organize beads that need to be varnished, and have other bowls with varnished beads that can be turned into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or bags.

I have lots of other stuff from Kenya to post this week and will get it in the shop as soon as I can. In the meantime, be sure to check out this stuff and please pass the blog and shop info on to others!

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