African Arts & Crafts
Beatrice Mugure Gachugi
African Arts & Crafts
Contact me at:
Phone: 021 510 5654
Cell: 083 717 2612
See mydemonstration report
I grew up in the Nyandarua District in the Central Province of Kenya. It was there that my craft roots were established although I did not realise this at the time. Starting from grade 3, we were taught traditional arts and crafts as a subject at school and this was my early foundation.
They had a somewhat more academic approach to crafting as the classes included both theory and practical work. In the process, we produced many practical and decorative items, ranging from painted bookmarks to wooden chairs, and dolls to woven hats. The school also took a to Mombassa where there were many craft markets, supported by many foreign tourists eager to buy the big variety of local arts and crafts. I liked what I saw in these markets and a dream was born in my mind as I realised arts and crafts could be a career.
But then, half way through secondary school, I found myself having to give up school because my family could not afford the school fees. Out of pure necessity, I had to accept a poorly paid 4 day-per-week job in a Nairobi industrial company. To supplement her income, I was forced to start finding some other ways to earn money on the other 3 days – and my crafter dream seemed to be becoming an impossible one.
Then, while drifting through a local craft market in Nairobi, I heard two women talking excitedly and loudly about a very successful exhibition of handmade jewellery they had held in Germany. I was amazed that making handmade craft could even result in one traveling to faraway places and realised that day, that committing to one’s dreams, no matter how humble they were, and working hard towards achieving them, was very important.
So I made some bookmarks on fine hard board, and found a supplier of craftwork who was prepared to take them on consignment to sell. But they sold poorly and after trying for a while, I decided to change to using soft leather instead of paper. And then my primary school lessons began to pay off. The bookmarks began to sell so well that I was unable to paint them fast enough to keep up with the demand from the art distributor’s customers.
It was this small light, that finally got the flame burning, and soon I has added other more intricate and decorative items to my range. I now make many items including my original bookmarks, leather picture and mirror frames, intricate and attractive candleholder figures made from horns, elegant bone cutlery and other trinkets, woven bags, leather coasters, vanity mirrors and key rings.
Last Updated 25 August 2016 13:13