Buying and shipping sculpture back home

Jan 4th, 2008, 02:05 AM
  #1  
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Buying and shipping sculpture back home

Hi all,

First time poster here although I have read a few days worth of invaluable material for my upcoming trip in a week.

I am going to climb Kili and then we will be doing a 10 day safari along the northern circuit.

My main concern is my weight restrictions as I am going to be bringing a fairly large amount of photo equipment as well as all of my climbing gear.

I wont be able to bring much at all back with me on the plane as far as souvenirs and sculpture due to all of my other equipment. Wood sculpture is a passion of mine and am actually more excited about that than the mountain if you can believe it. (My friend roped me into doing the climb.)The Makonde style is not necessarily my favorite but I know I will be trying to buy as much as I can to bring home. If there are other carving styles available in different locations near Arusha or along the northern circuit or if anyone knows of any particular shops or markets that I should visit I would love to hear about them. I may try to buy some large pieces if the shipping is not ridiculously expensive.

Does anyone have any ideas on the price ranges for pieces near Arusha?

The main problem I will have obviously will be shipping them home so if anyone is familiar with doing this I would appreciate any advice.

Maybe someone knows of specific shops that will ship directly back to my home at a reasonable price?

As far as where we will be staying while in Arusha:

On arrival we will be first staying a night at Mountain Village then the next day we transfer to Kibo Hotel where we will have the day to relax prior to our climb the next day.

After the climb we come back to Mountain Village to relax for a day before we start our safari. The last day we will be coming back from Tarangire Sopa Lodge in time to make our 4:00 pm flight home so I doubt I will be able to do much shopping that day.

In addition we will be staying in Amsterdam for 2 nights afterwards so that plays into what I can reasonably carry. Heck Im probably way over my limit as it is. I am waiting for a bunch of new camera gear to arrive in the mail the next 3 days.

I know this is last minute (leaving on the 10th) but I would appreciate any and all input.

Thanks guys.....and I will make sure to post a travel report and photos when I get back home.
Kmank is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 02:14 AM
  #2  
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Forget to say where my home is for shipping 8)

Florida
Kmank is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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Hi Kmank,
While in Arusha have your driver drop you off at the Cultural Heritage Centre.It is operated by a family of Indian descent.The owner,Seth,I believe is the person to deal with-a very nice fellow,who is very knowledgable,and can arrange for shipping etc.We have visited his establishment several times,and the variety of wooden crafts is wide-ranging-they have started to put fixed prices on many items,but if you speak with the owner,I think you can do much better..If you are going through Nairobi,try Utamaduni-very good quality original one of a kind works,and they ship out as well.Both places take Visa with no surcharge.Hope this helps.Have a safe trip-remember-Pole,pole on the mountain!!
toontowndoc is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 04:20 AM
  #4  
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Thank you very much toontowndoc for the suggestions I will definitely check the heritage center. We wont be going into Nairobi this trip so anything I purchase would be in Arusha and along the safari.

Do you know if this family run shop will ship items that I bought elsewhere as well? or only items I have purchased from him directly?

Thanks again to all and anyone else that can give me some other suggestions.
Kmank is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Hi Kmank,
One small correction-I think the Owners name at the Cultural Heritage is Seif not Seth,but again I may stand corrected.As well,I am not sure if they would ship items you had purchased elsewhere-you would have to ask,and it would probably depend on how much business you gave them.You could ask your local ground operator for advice,however.
Regards
toontowndoc is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 05:23 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for the clarification.
8)
Kmank is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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Depending on the size of the carvings, you might be better off to bring it back yourself as baggage, even if you had to buy a suitcase. Our guides didn't recommend shipping anything back, if you could help it.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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YOu didn't mention checking anything in your luggage, but if you do think about that, you might want to reconsider. The only time I ever had anything stolen from checked luggage, it was a small wooden carving (flying from Johannesburg home).
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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I personally wouldn't buy anything in the Heritage Tourist Trap in Arusha. Sure they have a lot of wooden sculptures there, but I can't say I've seen anything good or of good value there. It's a fun place to visit once, but I won't go back. This is my personal opinion.

I recommend buying directly from the carver. The best one I know is Charles Bies. He now has his own studio in Karatu town about 4 blocks from the main road; he's hoping for a location along the main road soon. He used to be located at Gibbs Farm, where he was the resident woodcarver. His sculptures are true Makonde works of art. He learned the art of woodcarving from his grandfather when he was 6 years old. When he was 10 years old he carved his first Ujamaa, tree of life. After his grandfather died when he was 17, he inherited the art and took care of his grandmother. When she died he moved from Dar to Arusha where his carvings would sell better. You can call him at 255 (0)754-012494.
I bought a beautiful big head of a Maasai woman and some small animal carvings that I carried back with me. I've never seen a nicer head and I've been looking for 5 years. His prices are also much better as you're buying directly from the carver. I'm not sure that he can ship for you, but he will pack it very well. Taking the extra suitcase and paying the airline fee is a good idea, I think. You can store it at Mountain Village during the climb.
PS. I'm not Charles and we're not related and I'm not getting any commission from him. I just like his work and I'm happy to share his story.
safarimama is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the info, Safarimama. It's always good to learn about individual craftsmen and where to find them. I've not purchased any major items at CHC, but it always seems to be where the guides stop. There's also a small souvenir shop outside of town on the road to Tarangire/Lake Manyara.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 11:39 AM
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I've not purchased any major items at CHC, but it always seems to be where the guides stop.

The guides get a commission from the 'Cultural Heritage Center' for bringing people in ...
Bill_H is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Sorry to offend anyone with my suggestions.I have absolutely no personal interest in the Heritage Centre. And I have no doubt whatsoever that CHC gives a kick-back to the drivers,that their marked prices are higher,and that the place can be unapologetically termed a tourist trap.The point is it is a convenient one stop place where when time is of the essence,we can pick up the usual small items to bring home as gifts.As well you can get some idea of what may be available elsewhere.Kili airport also has some shops with some decent small items as well.It sure beats being harrassed by touts in other parts of Arusha town IMHO.We also stopped at other shops en-route to the crater that had much higher prices even after bargaining,that I also assumed provide a kickback to the drivers.That's just the way the system works when on a guided tour.That being said,I applaud Safarimama's advice regarding a reputable local artisan who you may visit ,see him at work,and perhaps purchase his works.That to me would be the best way,and at the same time provide a true cultural experience.I would love to visit such an artisan if/when I return.I agree that if you can find a way to carry it back with you that is best.We will often purchase one of those inexpensive zippered duffle bags in the market to pack all of our purchases if you can bring it back as a checked bag.
toontowndoc is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 03:09 AM
  #13  
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Thanks all for the additional info.

Safarimama thanks very much for the specific artist info that is what I would love to see. Yes the markets will be overwhelming and a visual delight but getting to see and meet the actual artists would make the experience all the more better.

Being an artist and fellow woodcarver myself, I am familiar with the process and the energy used in making these pieces of art. I may try to bring some photos or a tearsheet or small portfolio of some of my own work to show the artists I visit.

However this is a double edge sword for me. I would hate to disrespect their pieces by haggling their initial price down too low........but I guess if it is normal to cut the first offer in half....I may do that to start and see where we go from there.

Safarimama you mentioned his prices are more reasonable.....would you still recommend the above mentioned strategy in bartering or how do you suggest arriving at a price for Mr Bies pieces?

Thanks again for any and all info.

Any more specific artist info is greatly appreciated.
Kmank is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 03:31 AM
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By the way I had already purchased a few extra duffels.

I originally was going to be carrying on a somewhat large daypack (photo equip. and essentials and climb gear I cant do without) and then try to check a large 30" long duffel with add. climbing gear and another 24" duffel with safari clothes and misc other items.

I will call my airlines to confirm the requirements over the next few days.

If I can I will still carry on the daypack check the large duffel and then put the smaller duffel as well as the extra empty duffels in a medium suitcase and check that. That way on the way home if I have to I can use the extra duffels to carry additional items.

However our flight plan involves leaving JRO on an Ethiopian Airlines 767-200/300 stopping in Addis Ababa then switching planes onto KLM and heading to Amsterdam. Staying in Amsterdam for 2 days at an, as of yet, unknown hotel then flying from Amsterdam to Atlanta switching planes and finally flying into Ft Lauderdale.

Obviously my concern would be if I am paying a fee for additional baggage am I wrong to assume that fee would have to be for each leg of the light? So basically 4 flights from the time we begin to leave Africa until the time we get home.

If it is an $80 fee each way I could see paying it.....but I guess I would have to get more info from my airlines first.
I will work on that later today if I can and post again.
Kmank is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 03:47 AM
  #15  
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Also maybe as a helpful note to anyone else going thru the same process, I will be buying a relatively inexpensive scale (the kind to weigh fish) to bring along with me so that I can tell how far over or under my bags are while I am packing them.

I have seen decent handheld 50lb scales for under $20
Kmank is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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Kmank,
I didn't really barter too much with Charles. His prices are already half that of the Sopa giftshop, where I saw a similar size head, but ugly or IMHO not anywhere as nicely carved. There are lots of Makonde imitations out there even in the "nicer" giftshops. I simply asked him when he told me the price to offer me his best price. He then came down a little. I asked if that was indeed his best price and offered $20 less, but he wouldn't take it. I didn't care, his work is worth a lot more than he asked anyway. I can't even remember what I paid for the head now and this was last November, less than 2 months ago. I paid cash in USD. He probably doesn't take credit cards. This is not a store, but his workshop. I also bought some animal carvings and I can't remember the price of those either or the total, but when he added it all up, he gave me a good discount. If you email me I will point you to my pictures of Charles and his carvings. kristina at winwins dot com
Normally, at the commercial giftshops such as the one at the edge of Arusha town mentioned above, where guides will stop for the restroom and you have to walk through the entire store to get there, yes you would offer half the asking price and then haggle from there. The guides get a commission, but it's very hard for them to collect what is due them as they don't have receipts. The shop owner decides what he remembers that the client purchased. The guides can of course choose not to stop there anymore if they don't get a fare amount, so it becomes a dance on a fine line for the shopowner. I always ask for a receipt and give it to my guide. I don't think that most guides know about Charles, which is why I gave the phone number.
I agree that the shops at JRO airport has some nice things at reasonable prices.
safarimama is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 10:23 AM
  #17  
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Thanks safarimama for the additional info, I sent you an email 8)

Everyone on this site has made me feel a lot better about my trip....I normally have everything much more planned out but ......I haven't really traveled internationally much before. Learning process....next time will be easier!

Anyway your help is much appreciated.
Kmank is offline  
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