Horn & Bone Earrings from Zimbabwe
East of Harare, in a pretty little agricultural town, lives a journalism graduate and Jason Bourne fan called Joseph who makes jewellery out of cow horn and bone. We came across his work at a market in Harare and arranged to visit his workshop and develop some tribal inspired earrings exclusively for Vagabond Van.
His town has been suffering from power cuts and sabotaged water supplies. Some believe that this is because there is a strong underground following for Mugabe’s opposition, the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and that making it uninhabitable is a very effective way of changing minds in the run up to the elections.
Either way, the lack of electricity (it comes on, if at all, only at night) meant that we didn't get to see Joseph's outdoor workshop in full swing. Although horn and bone is traditionally used in African adornment, Joseph has modernised the process by inventing an amazing electricity driven cutting and buffing machine which gives his creations their fabulous polished finish.
Joseph's electric motor machine has a fan belt which rotates a shaft. Cutting blades, drills, sand paper and buffing cloths can be connected to either end of the shaft to carve and polish the horn and bone.
The horn and bone is sourced from abattoirs and would otherwise be burnt if not used to make jewellery.
Joseph makes ethical necklaces from these polished seeds which are known as vegetable ivory.
The outdoor workshop is situated behind Blessed Welders - 'We melt steel to your satisfaction. Your wish is our command!'. No one has to wish very hard for delicious sadza, that's for sure.
Blessed Welders taking a break.
We spent the afternoon at Joseph's home and as the rain battered down on the corrugated roof, together we came up with some earring designs which bring out the natural beauty of the horn and bone.
His little ones watched on, quietly curious.
The piped water here is not safe to drink (there have been outbreaks of cholera) and so Joseph collects rain water in strategically placed buckets as it runs off his roof.
As we were leaving, Joseph gave us a custard apple from his tree which tasted exactly like crème brûlée.
We have been so inspired by Joseph's enterprise and hope to help his business grow by marketing his work to the world.
Despite recent adversity, Joseph's town still has plenty of pavement panache.
Available Exclusively at Vagabond Van…