Making jewellery and every day items out of bones might seem peculiar in modern world. In rural places such as Kenyan slums, where available material is relatively limited, wasting usable resources is what it is – wasting. Creativeness becomes the heart of living. For example, non-edible materials such as bones of cows are used to fulfil aesthetic needs as jewellery and beautiful kitchen ware.

Key ring made of bone and olive tree

Kikoi bone jewellery comes from a workshop in Gikomba slum. For the products, artists use the bone bought from local restaurants. In poor slum areas waste is not handled properly, so sometimes cow or goat bones can be found from the surroundings as well. Reusing all kinds of thrown out material – cow bones, bottle caps, cd’s, cans – in jewellery and home décor is also one way to make the precious nature cleaner.

Crafting bone

Cow bone and horns are very traditional materials for jewellery, different tribes have used them too. Jewellery is not the only way to use bone, it can be used as buttons, spoons, plates and decorations on Kibuyu-bottles for example. It’s important to keep the tradition alive.

Bottle openers with bone ending

The material is first cut and smoothened into the wanted form, into individual pearls, ear rings, bracelets or napkin holders. Then it’s boiled in order to remove the oil in the bone. If the oil is not removed, it becomes difficult to colour the pieces. As a final step the bone is dried in a container with black or any other colour paint or left as it is, white.

Un finished bone beads

Unfortunately, extinct animals such as rhinos and elephants are still victims of the illegal trade of their tusks, horns and bones. Sometimes even buffalo bone is used in making jewellery in African countries. Illegal materials such like these are really difficult to get and prices are extremely high, so workers in slums do not have access to them. We can assure that Kikoi products are made only from cow or goat bone.

Bone in Kikoi products can be found in Milele necklace and bracelet, horn bracelets, key rings and as a decoration in key lanyards. If you want to add bone in kitchen, you can find bottle openers, napking rings and sallad servers.

Bone pearl necklace

Posted in News By

Salla Thure