Height: 17cm x Length: 11cm x Width: 11cm
This black love knot is a great piece of abstract art carved from soapstone in the Kisii area of Kenya by artisans employed by the Kisac Fair Trade Co-operative.
The Kisii soapstone is unique in the world. Strong, relatively easy to carve, it can be found in the most striking colours: from stark white, to marbled pinks and greys, to yellows, creams and jet-black.
Mining the stone of the Kisii hills in Kenya is all done by hand with hammers, picks and chisels. 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. 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.
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 the principles of Faire Trade as set by the WFTO.