Anangu use spinifex grass to make a glue called kiti. They thresh the spinifex to extract the resin, which is heated until it fuses into a mouldable black tar. Kiti is used to make a range of tools, or to repair tools that have broken.
Kiti is a natural spinifex resin that has been used by Anangu for tens of thousands of years in traditional timber filling & adhesive applications:
used in conjunction with binding sinews to join timber materials,
used to repair water-carrying wooden bowls.
Used to adhere stone blades to wooden traditional tools.
Kiti has been used by Anangu more recently as a:
Good adhesion may be experienced with porous materials such as:
Typically able to mildly adhere to non-porous surfaces such as
Kiti is predominantly black to dark brown, it may be glossy once formed, and naturally forms a satin to matt finishes once sanded .
Kiti is great at accentuating the natural imperfections of timber while filling them to produce an even surface.
Kiti forms a plastic-like solid at temperatures below 40ᵒC and is moldable typically between 45ᵒC and 60ᵒC. Kiti sets instantly once cooled below 45ᵒC.
Once set it may be remolded, removed and/or resused upon the application of a heat source at a later date.
Kiti does not have discernible sink properties once applied and has an indefinite shelf life. Kiti may crack/shrink over the course of decades however most kiti sold by Maruku Arts is relatively stable. Lesser adhesion may be experienced here oils or varnishes are already present on the surface of the timber.
Kiti is easily trimmed with a blade/chisel, filed and sanded.
Typically lumps of kiti resin are rested on a clean surface next to a heat source (such as a camp fire) and allowed to gently gain heat over the course of 5-10 minutes.
The softened block is then worked into the gap with some excess kiti resin protruding.
Smoothing the kiti into the workpiece may be done with a metal implement. If more time is needed to rework the kiti then simply heating the resin with the heat source or a small torch may be done. Be careful not to apply excessive direct flame to the kiti as it is a natural product that is mildly flammable….much like wood.
Tidy up: it can be easily trimmed with a blade, file or rasp and is easily sanded with most grades of sandpaper to produce a fine finish.