MAKER SERIES: ANSELM’S KITENGELA HOT GLASS

We are thrilled to introduce you to Anselm Croze, the founder of Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass. Anselm’s creative journey began in 1979 when his family moved to Kitengela on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. At the time, Anselm's mother, Nani, worked with stained glass and encouraged him to learn about molten glass. 

Ten years later, Anselm traveled to Holland to advance his craft with glassmakers Willem and Bernard Heesen. During his apprenticeship, Anselm fell in love with what he describes as the “frustrating, challenging and deeply satisfying process of glass blowing.” All fired up, he came back to Kenya and set up East Africa's first glassblowing company — Kitengela Hot Glass.

The "Early Days" of Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass

In Kitengela, with no access to the mains electricity, Anselm devised a unique steam-injected system using recycled engine oil, which heated the furnaces to melt the glass. First, based out of a small studio, the company grew, and Anselm designed a bee-hive shaped workshop, which he built over three years, selling glass goblets to finance the build. 

The local masons who had built the dome needed consistent work and joined as apprentices. They worked alongside Anselm to build Kitengela Hot Glass. Today, people from across the globe come to visit, drawn by the ancient and magical art of glass blowing. 

The first Apprentices at Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass

More about Anselm in his own words:

How did you learn your craft? 

Mostly on the job, but started on a one week course in France taught by a Dutch family, the Heesen’s, who then invited me to Holland to be with them for a couple of months to immerse myself in the process.

What inspired you to start? 

The hypnotic magic and instant gratification of the process. And the fact that there was no glass in the Kenyan craft environment.

The First Studio of Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass

What motivated you to take your craft and make it your career/hobby? 

It happened by accident. One minute I was playing, and thirty years later, here we still are.

What about your craft empowers you? 

It’s challenging, massively satisfying, deeply frustrating. The emotional gamut is wide and allows for a deep relationship with the material.

The Current Studio of Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass "The Dome" 

Three words to describe how you feel when exercising/sharing your craft with others? 

Excited. Effervescent. Informative.

What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while creating your craft/practice? 

Infrastructure. On the plus side, it’s forced us to be innovative, flexible, and nimble.

How do you live ubuntu (a quality that includes the essential human virtues, compassion, and humanity) in your own life? 

Caring about detail. Caring about our square meter(s). Caring about the employees we call our family.

Anselm at Work in the Kitengela Hot Glass studio

At Ubuntu Life, we love style and encourage people to wear items that inspire them or make them feel confident. What are your favorite two items in your wardrobe that make you feel confident and/or the best version of yourself? 

My crushable hat, and my Western Rise jacket.

If you had a soundtrack for your life, what would be your theme song? 

Mambo Rap by Parov Stelar. But this changes weekly.

View of Anselm’s Kitengela Hot Glass studio today

Young Anselm learning the craft of blowing hot glass

Finishing these sentences… 

"I can't wait to ..."

take a break from this crazy year. 


"When nobody is around I...."

love a nap with my smallest dachshund.


"My favorite way to show LOVE is..."

cooking.


2 comments


  • Vivian Zajac

    Loved this story. Inspirational and heartfelt.


  • Vivian Zajac

    Loved this story. Inspirational and heartfelt.


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