Most of my jewellery is created from recycled metal (brass and aluminium). Recycling metal is a whole wide field and would take anyone so much to have an in-house department that recycles their own metal. Not that I wouldn’t want to get there some day. the universe has a way of answering our prayers. One of these prayers is the fact that Rajinder, a well known metal caster and our neighbour next door at the Kiambu showroom. He is always ready to convert all scrape pieces that I use for implementing my jewellery designs. The pieces he does are inspired by Africa and the African culture. He uses his hands to create moulds and sculptures. This resonates with our brand since we are both African and handmade! We thought that you should also read about what he does. Meet Rajinder:
Who is Rajinder?
I am Rajinder. Most people call me Raj. I call myself the alchemist. I take pride in turning scrape metal into beautiful valuable pieces – turning lead into gold.
How did you get into casting? Is this something that started as a hobby?
My alchemy journey started way back when I was a small kid before my teen age. My grandparents and uncles used to work in foundry. I remember seeing my uncle with an aluminium cast in form of the Roti (Indian chapati). This got my creative juices flowing and I was so eager to know the technique that had given birth to this beautiful piece. I started following my uncle closely. My dream career was now decided upon. I then joined a technical institution in India where I got a Diploma in Metallurgy after which I worked for Kenya Railways, Kens metal Industries among other companies before going independent. This is what I am doing to date.
Describe your production to deployment process
Here are the steps I follow once I receive order specs:
- Sculpturing from a sample or looking at a drawing
- Creating moulds
- Finishing which includes polishing
What material do you work with?
I prefer working only with non-ferrous metals (bronze, brass, aluminium, zinc and tin). Lead is extremely poisonous so I avoid it like a plague.
Are there any particular master pieces that you feel particularly attached to?
I love all the pieces that I create because there’s this sentimental attachment that one gets when working with your hands. However there’s this particular tribal mask that I created. The former first lady Mrs Lucy Kibaki bought it as a gift for South African’s Grace Mandela. Just the mere thought of having my piece hanging somewhere in the Mahlamba Ndlopfu gets me all nostalgic about it. I have done other great portraits for the current president KWS among others.
What do you think makes a good caster?
Experience is key. No college teaches foundry to perfection. It takes years and years of practice to achieve work that can be views as master!
What would you say to anyone in Nairobi or Kenya who is thinking about getting into casting whether full time or as a hobby?
There are a million types of products and ideas that anyone can make. Do not try and copy. Do not reproduce. Let your creative juices flow and you won’t regret ever. There’s also a lot of patience to be practiced as at times it may take you close to 3 years to come up with a small piece that will stand out in the market.
I draw my inspiration from great people like Armando Tanzini whom I worked with for over 20 years.
More photo inspiration below: