Horn Products of Uganda was founded in the 1990s by Sylvia and her husband. The company has a large workshop and store located in the center of Kampala. The mission of the company is to train local youth and women to create high quality jewelry, accessories and homewares from upcycled Ankole cow horns. Ankole cows are indigenous to Uganda and are raised for food. Their horns are transformed by these talented creators into beautiful treasures.
The cow is glorified by nomadic African tribes like the Masai of Kenya, The Hima of Uganda and the Tutsi of Rwanda. For these tribes, the cow represents life.
Legend has it that adorning in cow horn accessories imparts the aphrodisiac power of a bull to men and increased milk production to breast-feeding mothers. More legendary beliefs say the cow descended from heaven.
All cow horns sourced by Horn Products of Uganda are up-cycled from local suppliers after the cows are used for food. The process of transforming the cow horns into art starts with the hollow horn shell. These are selected and cut to size according to the creation being made. For example, when creating a bowl, the horn is first cut and boiled to acquire the unique beautiful shapes.
Horn primarily consists of keratin. When heated, the horn becomes malleable taking on a plasticity that allows it to be flattened, molded or bent. The shape then solidifies when the horn cools. For bowls, the heated horns are placed into a round mold under a pressing machine for 5 minutes. The horn is then removed and placed in water to cool down. After cooling, the bowl is ready for cleaning and bleaching, followed by five layers of sanding to attain a smooth and clean finish. The last step is to polish and apply wax.