The Horseshoe Cuff is one of our best sellers at shopsoko.com - an elegant piece that is the perfect wardrobe staple. There is so much more to this bracelet than its beauty, however, so we visited Kine to learn how he makes these gorgeous cuffs. Stephen Kine, one of our original artisans, lives and works in Kibera, Nairobi.
After a brief introduction to his team of craftsmen and a tour of their workshop, Kine dove straight into his work.
Kine explained that the materials for the bracelets come from scrap metal dealers. The brass is often discarded door or window fixtures, and aluminum is salvaged from old car engines. First, Kine melts the metal into custom-designed molds in the furnace room. After cooling, the mold is taken to the workshop where they trim and file it to perfection.
The piece above is fresh from the melting mold has just begun to take the shape of the horseshoe cuff. Notice the rough edges? These are very sharp to the touch. First, Kine removes the jagged part using a metal file. The extra chunk is cut off completely and saved for another bracelet.
Outside, we watched Kine operate a motor-powered buffing machine to polish the cuff. Three rotating wheels are used at different stages of polishing. Kine starts with a rough file which is used in the first step of smoothing the surface of the cuff.
After smoothing the rough metal, Kine changes the wheel, polishing in several stages from coarse to fine. In the final stage, Kine finishes off the piece by buffing the cuff to give it a reflective shine.
This process requires tremendous patience and a steady hand to prevent you from cut yourself against the rotating wheel. We were amazed that Kine can do all this while still talking and explaining the process!
The result is an incredible example of upcycling - we doubt anyone would guess that your cuff used to be part of a car!