Kitengela Hot Glass Factory, Nairobi
1 reviews from the community
Review of "Kitengela Hot Glass Factory, Nairobi"
KITENGELA HOT GLASSDuring my recent trip to Kenya, I spent a few days in Nairobi with a friend who has moved out there. One of the places she suggested going to was KitEngela Hot Glass , a glassblowing facility and art gallery based outside Nairobi. It sounded very quirky, so I was keen to visit. I’d also seen her amazing wine glasses that she had bought, and I was tempted to try and get some.
Sadly this isn’t easy. You will need your own transport to get here and it isn’t in central Nairobi and the roads for the last part are very poor, so a normal car may struggle (especially after rains), a four-wheel-drive car is ideal, but my friend didn’t have one of those, and her friends who did were out of town. We decided to drive to the suburb of Karen which was nearest to the location and park up in one of the malls and get a taxi to take us. However whilst the taxi driver insisted he knew where it was, it turned out he didn’t. The important thing to note is that Kitengela Hot Glass isn’t actually in the town of Kitengela! You need to turn off 16km before. According to the map we’d picked up in one of their shops , you need to turn left when you see zebras. We didn’t actually see any, although I am unsure if it was because they weren’t there, I wasn’t looking, or we were coming a different way. Basically our 45 mins taxi ride took us three hours as the taxi driver said there was an accident and the road was closed, therefore we needed to circumnavigate half of Nairobi first. So my tip is please ensure your driver knows where he is going, or better still, give him a copy of the map – of course agree a price upfront..
BackgroundThere are actually two facilities here, owned by a mother and son who run separate operations after a family falling out. The mother, German born Nani Croze, founded the business in 1981. An artist by trade she started to do stained glass art and windows, and her work can be seen all over Nairobi. Her son Anselm, by contrast, studied in Europe and returned to Africa where he learnt to blow glass (possibly at the same time as his mother in the 1990s – their websites don’t mention each other). He tends to make more traditional objects such as glasses and vases with a number or corporate clients in the hospitality industry.
After the taxi parked (in the wrong place, even though we told him where to go) we walked into Anselm’s part of glassworks and watched a demonstration. Here they use mostly recycled glass to make their items and that day was a ‘green’ day. We were informed that the furnace got up to a toasty 1600 degrees centigrade as we watched Alex and his colleagues make an elephant goblet (manually shaping the glass with tools to make the trunk and ears) and a vase. It was interesting to watch it being done and the guys working together, sometimes there was just a wad of damp newspaper between their hands and the hot glass. At the end one chap took a dry piece of newspaper and dropped it into the vase where the paper caught fire immediately because of the heat.After this we went to the bargain basement section where lots of odd glasses and wonky glasses were available at a discounted price. This is great if you are not worried about glasses that match, and like the quirkiness of a glass that leans over a bit more to the left. You can also get a good bargain on vases as well.
There is also a normal shop here where prices are 30% cheaper than in the shops in Nairobi. It is quite nice to wander around here as there are some interesting larger glass pieces to look at such as window screens too.
NaniAfter this we move up, pass the glass bead dome, to Nani’s Glass Art. Here there is plenty of art, and not just glass, there were hats made from White Hat beer cans, paintings and metalwork. I took lots of photos (there is a small photography fee). It is a really quirky place to browse as there is stuff everywhere, and it is actually quite cramped in parts. My friend, who has been here several times, was pleased to meet Nani herself. She was sitting down with her pinny on surrounded by an assortment of dogs and other animals. She later moved to feed her geese, turkey and peacock. There are also marabou stork here, goats, cows and probably several other animals I have forgotten.
From here you can walk to a rope bridge but we got shrieked at by a mother monkey with young baby, so we decided to give her a wide birth and not go on the rope bridge. Nani said she would back off if approached, but we didn’t want to risk it or distress/disturb her. There is also a small pool area with some art too (we had to ask to see this as it was closed off, but I am not sure if this is always the case).In the shop/gallery I didn't see any prices but there were some interesting pieces of traditional style fine art and representations of the animals, as well as quirk glass and pottery items.
We visited the lavatories at Anselm’s establishment, which was fine. We also got ourselves a drink here. It also serves snacks and I think you can have a proper lunch but our delays meant we didn’t have time as they were about to close. I also spotted a small café in Nani’s place and there are also loos here. We parked at Anselm’s and walked to Nani’s, there seems to be more parking here.
Studio wholesale shop opening hours – 7 days a week from 8am – 4pm.
Glass blowing demonstrations at the studio continuously from : 9am – noon & 1pm – 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, Sunday 9am – 1pm, Monday 8am – noon.
Closed December 24th, 25th, 26th & January 1st.
Studio Shop - Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Studio Address: off Magadi Rd (Masai Lodge Rd, past Africa Nazarene University), near Ongata Rongai. There are signposts once you reach Masai Lodge Road for Anselm
Kitengela Hot Glass shops (Anselm) are based:
The Junction Mall, The Junction (Ngong Rd, Dagoretti), Nairobi
The Village Market (Limuru Rd, Gigiri), Nairobi
House of Treasures (Dagoretti Road, Karen – entrance opposite The Hub mall), Nairobi.
Nani has a spot in the Galleria Mall, Junction of Langata & Magadi Road, Nairobi, Kenya.
ConclusionDespite the huge hassle it was for us to get here, I am really glad we persevered and made it here. I would have liked to have had more time to look at the artworks at leisure and perhaps to have a bit of lunch and go across the rope bridge without being bullied by a monkey. However, if you do come here, I hope you can learn from our experience, and double check that your taxi driver does actually know where it is! If you are a fan of quirky and unique homewares and art then Nani’s is the place to go. Anselm’s products are stylish and more sophisticated.
1 - Glass art at Nani's
2 - Making an elephant goblet
3 - Glass in Anselm's shop
4 - Paintings at Nani's
5 - Nani's Garden and some of her friends
6 - The pool area at Nani's
Product Information : Kitengela Hot Glass Factory, Nairobi
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 24/08/2016