I was fortunate enough to inherit a lot of items from Alex when she left for the States, including cubos, clothes, crafts and more. One craft activity she left behind was a plastic weavings project. She learned the craft from Katie, another volunteer who has now completed her service. And thus the cycle continues, as I have picked up the trade and teach it to the Loma Coco Women’s Group. Hopefully they will teach others and even sell the items they make!
The goal is to create something from strips of plastic (granola wrappers, empty chicha packets, you name it), instead of throwing them out or burning them. When one’s perception of the value of trash is altered, our environment benefits greatly. In the United States, most of us have been raised in a “throw-away” culture. You’re finished with you granola bar so you throw away the wrapper. But where does this wrapper eventually end up? Polluting our environment. For better or worse, Western culture is seeping into the poors of every societies worldwide. One negative effect I have observed is this sense of throwing things away. A piece of plastic is not seen as valuable, or having a huge negative impact when thrown into the monte or quebrada. What I, and other volunteers, are trying to alter is the perception and value of trash. Instead of saying “don’t buy plastic products” (which will never happen now that they are sold in abundance), we strive for “make your plastics economically valuable to you.” Thus, plastic weavings!
Artisans are able to make wallets and purses from this technique, but for a demonstration I made a coozie-type item. First, collect a handful of plastic wrappers. Get scissors and measuring tape. Measure the first strip (_____x_____) then cut a dozen others from its dimensions. Take one strip and fold it in half lengthwise; open it again to see a central crease. Fold both sides lengthwise into the center, meeting one another where the crease is. Fold that in half onto one another. Now take the two ends and fold them in to meet one another at the central crease. Then fold them onto each other. If I did a really poor job of explaining this (which I think I did), please go to a website that has step-by-step images with the directions.
Once you have your pieces folded (keep them under a weight so they don’t fall open), you can begin weaving a really long strip. Again I recommend going to a website that has images with directions because I don’t really know how to explain this next part. So you weave them together in a chain-like formation. Once you have the desired length you want, begin coiling it, allowing the points to fall into one another. To secure it, use a needle and thread to secure each point to the level below it. You will end up with a tall and thin cylinder. Press it flat and sew the bottom together. You can make a handle by creating a long chain then sewing the two ends to your product.
Walah! You made a product from paper strips. This is a great way to pass the time and chat about other pertinent topics while crafting with the women. It is great to get men involved too to break down gender stereotypes and niche norms. What kind of crafts do you make with plastic wrappers?