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Closeup of Pauline, soapstone coordinator. An amazing woman in Kenya, Pauline Ntombura, is the inspiration behind these wonderful soapstone products. Pauline grew up as the daughter of a tribal chief in the village of Kisii in southwest Kenya. Bucking the tradition that women stay in the home, Pauline obtained her education. Later she established a soapstone workshop which now employs more than 800 people (about 50% are women).

The fair wages Pauline pays ensures the artisans can afford decent housing, education for their children and basic healthcare.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock consisting mostly of the mineral talc. Sometimes known as steatite, it's very soft and frequently used for sculpting. When they mine the soapstone they essentially dig a big pit in the ground (maybe 50-75 feet in diameter) using picks and shovels. The earth isn't gouged by heavy machinery.

When the soapstone items are painted, sometimes the natural color and lines of the stone's minerals show through.


Soapstone Hearts

What a beautiful and meaningful shape the heart is! You'll love the soft, smooth feel of the soapstone surface. These hearts are a great gift for someone you love. Perfect to hold and use as a worry-stone, paperweight, make a collection and display in a basket, ...

These Kenyan soapstone hearts come in 3 sizes and in a variety of colors. Larges are about 4", Smalls are about 2" and the fun mini's are about 1".


hearts on hearts - soapstone hearts.

Hearts on Hearts!

Not only does the soapstone heart shape say "I love you!", but the many hearts painted on it say it over and over (and under).

Choose from 3 great colors - Pink, Purple or Red.
(Sorry - smalls are out of stock, and large reds are out of stock.)


Small
SO:HEART-2IN-HOH

$8.00

About 2"


Large
SO:HEART-4IN-HOH

$12.00

About 4"

Colors:




4 mini soapstone heart designs - hand carved and painted in Kenya, Africa.

Mini Soapstone Hearts    $6.00

We're offering some new designs in our popular mini heart size - about 1". Hand carved and painted, they're the perfect small "thank you" gift; or get a handful for decoration in a basket around your home or office.

Clockwise from Top Left: Love, Pink Striped, Red Heart Outline, and Zebra Stripes.
SO:HEART-MINI-design
(Sorry - the minis are out of stock.)




Large and Small pink soapstone hearts with teardrops from Kenya, Africa.

Reddish pink soapstone heart with flowers.
(left) Flowers with Teardrops
(above) Little Flower Outlines

New!Flowered Soapstone Hearts

These flowering designs are available in both large and small sizes.



Large
SO:HEART-large-flower

$12.00

About 4"

Design:



(Sorry - Little Flower Outlines are out of stock.)


Small
SO:HEART-small-flower

$8.00

About 3"

Design:



(Sorry - Little Flower Outlines are out of stock.)




3 Tribal Painted Soapstone Designs
Abstracts, Stars, and Split Hearts

Soapstone Star Hearts - 2 views - from Kenya.
Soapstone Split Hearts from Kenya.

Small: $8.00
About 2"
SO:HEART-2INTRB-design
(Sorry - Abstract and Star designs are out of stock.)

Design:


Large: $12.00
About 4"
SO:HEART-4INTRB-design

Design:


When soapstone is painted, sometimes the natural coloring changes of the stone shows through, so you may see that as light lines.




Soapstone carvers in Kenya. The African villagers retain all of the fill, so when they have extracted the soapstone, they refill the pit. After 5-10 years the soapstone begins to re-form, and so new soapstone becomes available

The local people who own the land actually live on it -- their houses are next to the pits and they are paid by the kilo for the soapstone that is removed.

Their property is very valuable, so the houses stay within the families, and the people are very motivated to keep the land in good condition. In general, the men do the mining, carving and painting, and the women do the sanding, polishing, washing and packing.

Pauline and the Kenyan artisans thank you for your support and your interest in their soapstone creations.




Black and White Soapstone Hearts - with Spirals. soapstone heart - white with varying size black dots from Kenya.

Black and White Designs

These striking black and white designs are available in both Large and Small sizes. Sure to complement any decor.

And if you're looking for more black and white hearts, we also have a zebra design in the fun mini size.

White with Black Spirals

White with Varying Black Dots


Small
SO:HEART-2IN-design

$8.00

About 2"
(Sorry Dots are out of stock.)

Design:


Large
SO:HEART-4IN-design

$12.00

About 4"
(Sorry Dots and Spirals are out of stock.)




Additional Soapstone Hearts

Maroon soapstone heart with speckles from Kenya, Africa. Orange soapstone heart with spirals from Kenya, Africa. Red soapstone heart with speckles from Kenya, Africa.

Maroon with Speckles

Orange with Spirals

Red with Speckles


Small
SO:HEART-S-design

$8.00

About 2"


(Sorry - all three small designs are out of stock.)


Large
SO:HEART-L-design

$12.00

About 4"


(Sorry - All large sizes are out of stock.)




Circle of Friends Candle Holder
circle of friends soapstone candle holder in black or natural soapstone from Kenya

$18.00

About 2.75" w x 3.25" high
(Sorry - Black out of stock.)


(Sorry - out of stock.)

The arms of these friends are joined together, having been carved from one piece of soapstone.
A perfect gift to show your friends that they're important in your life.



Tea Lights

Standard size tea lights (not included) will fit our soapstone tea light carvings.


New purple soapstone round ball tealight from Kenya, Africa.

Tea Light Balls   $9.00

These new purple or green tea light spheres are tastefully decorated with nature's vines.
SO:TEABALL-color     3" diameter

(Sorry - out of stock.)

Kenyan soapstone ball shaped tea light candle holder - from Africa.


Heart Tea Light    $12.00

Green   TOA:TEA-GR
Rich   SAL:TEA-R

ALSO AVAILABLE but not shown:
Bright Orange   TOA:TEA-OR
Red   SAL:TEA-RD

Soapstone heart-shaped tea light holders from Kenya.

2.75" wide x 3.5" long x 2.5" high
(Sorry - Red is out of stock.)

Colors:




tribal soapstone tea lights carved in Kenya, Africa.

Tribal Design Tea Lights
$9.00 each


About 3" diameter and 1" high.

Design Choice:



Additional Soapstone Carvings


(Please also see our Decorative Soapstone Box page!


Kenyan soapstone carving - friendship knot.

Friendship Knot   $18.00

Black   KNTFRN-BK
Natural   KNTFRN-N

2.75" w x 4" high
(Sorry - out of stock.)




Mother and Child

Medium:  $18.00
2.5" w x 4" high
(Sorry - is out of stock.)

Soapstone figurine of mother and child, seated, hand-crafted in Kenya. Seated mother and child - soapstone carving from Kenya, Africa.

Small:  $10.00
1.5" w x 3.5" high
(Sorry - out of stock)



Soapstone Hippopotamus

Soapstone Hippos available in 3 colors - from Kenya, Africa.

Each hippo is hand-carved and cute as a button.

They're available in Black, Blue and Red in small or large sizes.
SO:HIPPO-size-color
(Sorry - all the hippos are out of stock.)

Large Hippo   $12.00


Small Hippo   $6.00

Large and Small Blue Hippos from Kenya, Africa.




Kenyan Beaded Bowls and Boxes

Ol Malo Designs is a company owned and run by Julia Francombe that provides employment and help for the Samburu people in Kenya, and develops their talents through art. Julia employs more than 100 Samburu women who do the incredible beadwork, a native skill. These Kenyan beaded products are sold locally in the Ol Malo Designs shop, and internationally through distribution partners.

Kenyan women admire the beaded boxes they've crafted of high quality Czech beads. This bead work provides the Samburus with employment and income and encourages them to promote their timeless talents. During the severe drought in 2000, Ol Malo fed over 200 families who had lost all their livestock - and were literally starving -- through the sales of these products. To help address and prevent disasters like this, Julia created the Ol Malo Trust which has grown into a pioneering community charity, building a bustling nursery school, protecting several water sources, organizing mobile health clinics, and supporting the Ol Malo Eye Project to eradicate trachoma in one of the most remote regions of Africa.

Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that affects more than 80% of adults over the age of 30. It is a preventable disease, the root of which is poverty. Supported by product sales and fundraising efforts such as the Nairobi marathon, Ol Malo has funded more than 200 surgical procedures to return sight and remove pain; established nurse-led community education; begun the provision of clean water and has developed links with and training of Kenyan Ophthalmologists.



Holiday Samburu Table Setting Package!

Bring Ol Malo ambiance into your home with this limited edition Holiday Samburu Table Setting Package!

Holiday Samburu Table Package - beaded elegance for your table.

Each set includes:

  • 2 beaded wind light candle holders

  • 6 placemats

  • 6 napkin rings

All pieces are beautifully wrapped in a banana fiber box.

Samburu holiday napkin ring closeup.

Each piece is hand-beaded with care by the Samburu women of the Sampiripiri Arts workshop, Ol Malo. By creating a beautiful Samburu-style holiday at home, you will bestow a wonderful gift on the Samburu people and provide them with a very Merry Christmas!

Your purchase of a beaded Table Setting Package will provide a Samburu woman with three weeks work and enable her to give her family a fabulous Christmas feast and many of life's necessities. To the left is a close-up of a napkin ring.

This package is on sale!

Normally $695, your price will be just $350!

(This offer is limited to the quantities currently in stock. Wholesale clients, please contact us for pricing.)



beaded boxes - shown in blue - from Kenya, Africa.  beaded boxes - shown in red - from Kenya, Africa. Multi-color beaded boxes from Kenya, Africa.

Sets of 3 Nesting Beaded Boxes

These cylinder boxes with lids have so many uses - declutter your desk or dresser, collect change, ... and they're ever so decorative. Plus they help struggling Samburu artisans.

They're available either as a set of 3 nesting boxes in either a large or small size.

See an article about our partner, EDImports, in the Fall 2005 issue of Town & Country Travel, which publicized these Kenyan Beaded Boxes.


Set of 3 Large
Kenyan Beaded Boxes

(Sorry - Multicolor are out of stock)

4-6" nesting diameter/height
KB-BOX-SET-3-L 

$88.00

Colors:


Set of 3 Small
Kenyan Beaded Boxes

Sorry - Blue and Multicolor are out of stock.

2-4" nesting diameter/height
KB-BOX-SET-3-S 

$47.00


(Sorry - out of stock.)



Beaded multicolor bowls. The production of these beaded items contributed to the receipt of ‘Overall Joint Winner’, along with ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’ in the highly competitive First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards given to organizations that are making a significant commitment to responsible tourism.

As the event organizer explained, "They value, most highly of all, their interaction with the community through the women and children who come to Ol Malo to produce beadwork and paintings. This a chance for Ol Malo to see if they are achieving their aim for the community: to contribute to the preservation of the Samburu people in such a way that the Samburus are independent, strong and empowered to live their lives in the way that they strongly desire and choose."   Learn More...


Red beaded bowls from Kenya. Beaded bowls shown nesting in sets of 3.

Kenyan Glass Beaded Bowls
These beautiful beaded bowls can be purchased as a set of 3 nesting bowls in two sizes, or just a single bowl. Sizes and designs will vary somewhat.

Set of 3 Large
Kenyan Nesting Beaded Bowls
$70.00

About 4" - 5" in diameter.
KB-BOWL-SET-3-L

Colors:

Set of 3 Small
Kenyan Nesting Beaded Bowls
$44.00

KB-BOWL-SET-3-S

Colors:

One
Kenyan Beaded Bowl
$28.00

KB-BOWL-1
(Sorry - out of stock)


For your surfing enjoyment... From the November 2007 issue of Travel and Leisure magazine, you might wish to read a great article entitled Women at Work "Traveling to Kenya and India, Shane Mitchell visits four collectives that are keeping handicraft traditions alive - and entire cultures thriving - while offering new opportunities to the women who belong to them."

This article includes a personal description of visiting a beading workshop called Sampiripiri (Samburu for "butterfly"), at Julia Francombe's family farm, Ol Malo, in Kenya.

Learn what the bead colors in Samburu jewelry mean, and get some insight into the women artisans' minds and culture.


Decorative Boxes Section Quick Links:

Decorative Boxes
   Banana Boxes
   Cinnamon Boxes
   Copper Wire Boxes
   Glass Bead Boxes
   Gourd Boxes
   Orange Peel Boxes
   Painted Flower Boxes
   Soapstone Boxes
   Tagua Nut Boxes


Gifts Section Quick Links

   Flour Angels
   Bark Cloth Journals
   Bookmarks
   Jipijapa Animals
   Junk Yard Critters
   Metal Bowls - India
   Metal Crafts - Haiti
   Photo Frames
   Soapstone - Haiti
   Soapstone - Kenya
   Tagua Nut Carvings
   West African Metal Crafts
   Wire & Cotton Figures
   Wood Animals
   Wood 3D Puzzles


Basketry Section Quick Links:

Basketry Main Page
Bolivian Totora Reed
Haitian Baskets

   Banana Leaf
   Sisal
   Vetiver
   Vine, Palm, Straw

Ghana Grass
Guatemalan Maize
Guatemalan Pine Needle
Kenyan Glass Bead
Rwandan Sisal / Banana







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