The log stool is essential to Africa’s material culture and history and Kenya also has its fair share of incredible wooden log stool designs.
Vintage carved table furniture has exceptional sculptural power and deep cultural meanings that make it all the more appealing.
But sustainability is the greatest challenge to preserving this ancient craft today. How can we preserve the log stool craft in the face of climate change and deforestation?
We’ve shared all the valuable details in this article. But first…
The history of the African log stool
Carving a log stool takes superior skill honed over many years, a feat made possible by simple tools like hand chisels and knives.
In Yoruba culture, kings, queens, and high priests proved rank with log stools.
An Ashanti King couldn’t wield power without an Ashanti stool in Ghana.
The Luo in Kenya still have a unique technique for their wooden sculpture stools.
They grow a tree with the sole intention of carving it. However, it actually takes a year to grow, carve and decorate one carved log stool.
These wooden carved stools, just like the ones for the Yoruba and Ashanti hold special meaning.
They’re exclusively for respected members of their society.
The origins of the African carved log stool
It’s important to note the diversity of African log stools since almost every community had or still has them.
Some popular examples include Senufo, Bamileke, Dogon Samba, Bamun, Hehe, Ekicholong, Gĩturwa, and Tonga.
Presently most of these original designs feature replicas in homes and offices across the globe as accent pieces.
We also have assorted designs of carved log stools.
Our log stools borrow from these cultural designs and themes but bear no symbolism as they’re purely for decoration.
Sourcing the best wood for your log stool
The idea behind our log stools stems from the need to repurpose all sorts of waste wood logs. We do this by transforming them into exquisitely carved log stools.
But we’ve learned over time that all wood isn’t ideal for carving because some are too hardened or tend to split when you attempt to carve them.
However, the most contentious issue we’ve encountered is the over-exploitation of most indigenous wood carving species over the years, where some are now almost extinct.
We’ve therefore identified alternative recommended species by Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).
They’ve staked out and identified these species under the ‘good woods’ for years.
These good woods fall under; major (widely used), minor (used in place of major), and alternatives (have potential but not widely used).
The major, popular ones include Mpingo (Ebony), Mutamayu (Olive), Muhuhu (Oak), and Mgurure (Leadwood).
The recommended alternatives include; Mwarubaini (Neem), Mwembe (Mango), and Mucakaranda (Jacaranda).
We use jacaranda because it’s sustainable, widely available, grows fast, and is affordable.
Frequently asked questions
1. What is a carved item?
A carved item is anything made from a block of wood, tree stump, stone, or other solid material. It’s done by chiseling out some of its bits in a discernible pattern.
The outcome is often a functional or decorative item like a carved log stool, fruit bowl, spoon, table, or chair.
Carving is an ancient form of woodworking, as evident from carvings and sculptures from Africa, the Orient, and the Middle East.
2. What wood is a carved wood accent table made from?
A carved wood side table consists of diverse wood species.
Ours come from Jacaranda, one of Kenya’s recommended alternatives for wood carvings.
The distinct characteristics that make jacaranda ideal for wood carving are non-irritating odor, straight grain, pale coloring, ease of carving, especially in its green state, fast dry, and easy to season.
3. How do you know if something is hand carved?
It’s easy to pick out hand-carved items due to various inconsistencies that may not be so obvious.
No matter how skillful the carver is, you can always expect slight differences in the straight line, angles, edges, and similar parts.
Look for irregular patterns, chisel marks, or stains indicating a significant human touch.
We hope you can now confidently select the best wood for your log stool.
We hand carve our log stools from recommended and sustainably sourced ‘good woods’ like Jacaranda.
They come in assorted designs and are ideal for accentuating your spaces by giving them a natural, earthy look and feel.
If you’d like to place an order, call/Whatsapp us on +254721668660 or email us at: [email protected]