Gray Soapstone Safari Chess Set, Kenya
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Crafted by African artisans in Western Kenya using traditional techniques, this soapstone chess set will become a conversation piece during play or on display! The board is 14 - 15 inches square inlaid with gray and white soapstone. Each piece is hand carved in either gray or white soapstone. Due to the natural characteristics of soapstone, the colors will vary. The game pieces are approximately 2.25 to 3.5 inches tall.
A natural stone, color variations are to be expected and enjoyed for the one-of-a-kind beauty.
Soapstone is a soft stone, making it easy to carve into many forms. Handle with care to avoid breakage.
Each piece has gone through multiple stages of sanding and waxing, giving the soapstone a satiny finish.
Story Behind the Art:
Each sculpture is artfully hand-carved from a single piece of Kisii soapstone, found only in the hills of southwestern Kenya. Mining the soapstone from surface hills is a labor-intensive process, using little to no machinery. Laborers works with shovels, picks, axes and machetes to carve out large soapstone chucks, which are then carved into beautiful art.
Our Soapstone is carved by the artists of SMOLArt a group of artists who live in the rural village of Tabaka, Kenya, the heart of soapstone crafts. The name, a shortened version of Small, Medium, and Large Artists, refers to the size of the soapstone products the artisans make, not their stature. Established in 1990, SMOLArt is a member of the WFTO, and as such assures that the artisans are paid a fair price for their work. In addition, the organization support community development by contributing to projects that improve living conditions, education, and health of their members and the village at large.
Soapstone is mined from great pits in the area surrounding Kiisi, Kenya. The mined soapstone is then delivered to carvers who carve sculptures from the natural stone for the wholesale market, the color of which ranges from cream, to pink, to brown, to yellow, to black, to a marbling of all of them. Once carved, the craftspeople smooth rough edges of the soapstone with sandpaper dipped in water and polish the piece to a high gloss or paint African motifs in brilliant colors with etched accents.
All of the soapstone products we sell are completely handmade. The tools consist of household items from screwdrivers, hand drills, to switchblades. "Pangas," sword-like tools usually used for cutting down vegetation, are used to cleave the stone in the mines.