The inspiration of our Kuba Cloth bag collection is to take a historical print & give it new life through the beautiful people working at Ubuntu Life. Kuba Cloth is a unique textile from the Democratic Republic of the Congo known for its elaborate & complex design. We are proud to showcase this historical pattern using a modern approach while each step is still done by hand.
The first step in this process is creating our screen for printing.
Each screen is formed by hand using a wood frame & silk mesh. From there, we transfer the print onto the silk mesh. This is similar to the process of developing a photo negative and can only be done in a dark room.
Once the screen for our print is created, we move onto the mixing of our ink!
We mix each pigment by hand to ensure we get the perfect hue. This takes several tries and we test each batch to make sure it is the exact color we want. We use lead-free water-based inks to ensure the safety of our Makers & customers.
Once the ink is mixed to perfection, we move onto the printing process!
The printing process is very labor-intensive. We work with skilled artisans who have been doing this process for over 20 years. The way we screen print each panel requires specialized skills & technique. Every aspect of our design process upholds the power of Ubuntu. We highlight artisans within our community to work with & learn from. It is a unique opportunity to expand our knowledge base while ensuring the quality of the work is at its best. Every product we make is based around our brand ethos of togetherness.
Afterward, we complete the placement of patterns and then we cut each panel for the bags allowing our Makers Mums & Men to work on different components of the bags.
Each panel is hand-cut and then we use traditional sewing machines to assemble. Each stage of the bag composition is passed to a skilled Maker Mum. So every step of the bags is completed with care, precision, and most importantly LOVE.
Each bag is composed of materials sourced across East Africa and we strive to use local factories as frequently as possible. All of the leather we use is 100% Kenyan tanned leather from the oldest & best tannery in Kenya. We have a long-standing relationship with this tannery. We work with them due to their dedication to maintaining traditional methods and our ability to hand-select each piece of hide.
Kuba textiles are believed to relate to music and mathematics. A two-dimensional design with geometric variation demonstrates a taste for interrupting the expected line; they are composed through juxtapositions of sharply differing units.