How Its Made - Turkana Baskets

How It's Made - Turkana Baskets 

The Turkana line of products is named for the Tribe who makes them and where the materials come from.  The ladies of Baskets and Beads Kenya that live in the Kipsongo slum in Kitale are from the Lodwar area of Kenya. You can see on the below map the distance from Nairobi the capital where we fly into and Kitale where the ladies live now and Lodwar where their tribe is from.  The Lodwar area has a hot desert climate and has very little rainfall throughout the year. 

The ladies learned how to make these baskets starting at a young age, many as young as 5 years old.  They get the papyrus reed grasses that grow naturally in Lodwar and weave them into different shape baskets, trivets, mats, brooms and other household products.  Most of the products were made to use primarily in the home.  They eventually found out that tourists in the area were interested in the products and started making them to sell.  

These brooms are a household staple in any Kenyan home and the best broom for getting up all kinds of dirt and debris.  They are made for primary use in mud huts which is why they get things up so well on any surface. The difference between these brooms and synthetic brooms you get in the store in the US is that the synthetic brooms get much of the debris caught in the bristles.  Straw brooms end up bending and become ineffective in a short amount of time.  The Turkana brooms outlast these other brooms.  They are hand brooms and could be adapted to use with a stick inserted in the middle but we thing they work best by hand.   

We use these brooms in our warehouse and at home to get up pet hair and other dirt and debris and on the patio.  I've had my broom for 5 years and it's still going strong.  

The grasses come in a bundle on a bus from Lodwar.  They come in long strands  and the ladies take the strands and start to weave them into the product they are making.  The strands can be dyed similar to the tie dye process to get colorful embellishments on each product.  Typically they do colors such as brown, pink, green, blue and yellow. Gloria below is making the bottom part of a basket. 

This is the finished product and took 1 day to make.  It's a one of a kind and available in the online store now, check it out here. You can see the yellow embellishment on the basket from the tie dye process.  This basket measures approximately 9" across and approximately 3' deep and has sturdy handles. 


We currently have an array of products and more styles of the products were brought back from Kenya on our last trip such as smaller baskets and new colors of trivets.  

Check out the online store for these amazing products.  



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