Born to an American zoologist father, Harvey Croze , and a stained-glass artist mother, Nani Croze, Anselm went to study in France and Holland with master glass blowers. On the heels of these apprenticeships, he returned to East Africa in the early ‘90s. Anselm then decided to further explore his calling in glass blowing.
“I had this experience that was really a magical fusion of luck and revolutionary thinking from master teachers. Then when I came home, I met a Finnish glassblower named Mikko Merikallio who was also a furnace builder and inventor,” remembers Anselm. “He was very, very good with the relevant technology we needed to get started. So we cleared a space at Kitengela and started building.
“Because we had no electricity, we had to be self powered,” he continues. “So Mikko helped us to put in this steam-injected system that utilized recycled engine oil to power the furnaces and melt our material. Energy-saving processes such as these were important to us. Even back then we wanted to have a good working relationship with the environment.”
Anselm and his workers were learning as they went, blowing objects and casting glass that they then turned into furniture. Then Anselm’s sister Katrineka began making glass beads and things started taking off. The team finished the front part of the studio, but in order to create the now-famous dome, Kitengela Hot Glass needed bricks.
“We sold goblets to build it,” Anselm says, “and based the design on an old 15th century glass working furnace. Plus I thought the shape was cool. It took three or four years, but by the time it was done, we’d evolved from one studio into a number of them.
“As it turned out, the guys who’d been working with us needed jobs and I asked, ‘Who wants to learn how to blow glass?’ That’s basically how Kitengela Hot Glass got started. We all just dove in.”