Kisac Fair Trade Soapstone

The Kisii soapstone is one of the most unique in the world. Strong, relatively easy to carve. When found it is a dull, dirty grey, however it can be transformed to the most striking of colours: from stark white, to marbled pinks, to yellows, creams and jet-black when it is being used to make something. Mining the stone of the Kisii hills in Kenya is all done by hand with hammers, picks and chisels. At the moment soapstone can only be found in mainly east Africa and India.

The stones are made into the approximate shapes with machetes, axes and handsaws. The stones are then carried by manpower out of the mines. Carving is also done entirely by hand, and the tools are often improvised and locally made from recycled metal.

Kisii Soapstone in Kenya

Most men around the village of Tabaka, where the main soapstone production happens, know how to carve. Learning happens informally in families as boys watch their fathers carve. Sanding is called washing, because it is done in water. Mostly the job of women, it is labour intensive as each piece can be sanded up to 6 times. Depending on the design, a piece can be left “natural”, exhibiting the colours of the stone itself, or it can be decorated. Colour is applied to a piece, and detailed highlights in white are then etched into the applied colour. Polishing is finally applied to the finished piece.

Bowl handmade from Soapstone

Kisac are members of several Fair Trade Networks including World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Cooperation for Alternative Trade in Africa (Cofta) and the Kenyan Federation for Alternative Trade (Kefat) and adhere to all ten principles of Fair Trade as set by the WFTO.

Because of the quality of the stone, and the attention to sanding, the final product has a unique and intense shine. With many fun and artistic designs:

2 Lovers Statue made from SoapstoneHippo Model made from Soapstone

2 lovers statue made from soapstone.  Hippo Model made from soapstone.