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Handcrafted Beads: A Trip to the Kazuri Factory in Kenya

Updated on April 21, 2015

Necklaces made from ceramic beads are one of my most treasured souvenirs from my stay in Kenya. They are called ‘Kazuri’, which means ‘small and beautiful’ in Swahili. Their bright colors and candy-like shapes brighten up an outfit like a plain white shirt and jeans any day.

When I was working in Nairobi, I visited the Kazuri factory in Karen, which is about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the city center, to see how these bright baubles were crafted by hand.

The factory is at the back of the store selling Kazuri beads and other ceramic souvenirs.
The factory is at the back of the store selling Kazuri beads and other ceramic souvenirs.
Processed clay is molded by hand into circles, cubes and discs before they are left to dry.
Processed clay is molded by hand into circles, cubes and discs before they are left to dry.
Plates of molded beads drying under the sun.
Plates of molded beads drying under the sun.

Kazuri Factory in Karen

Tiny elephants come to life from plain clay.
Tiny elephants come to life from plain clay. | Source
Hardened beads, partly painted and strung with wire ready to be fired in a kiln.
Hardened beads, partly painted and strung with wire ready to be fired in a kiln.
Finished beads ready to be strung into bracelets and necklaces
Finished beads ready to be strung into bracelets and necklaces
Beads strung into chokers
Beads strung into chokers | Source

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