Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Local artists crafts merchandise from recycled paper

In another display of the local Setswana cultural aspect of environmental care and conservation, fine artist Ditatolo Mabifi sells some handmade decorating merchandise made of recycled paper. These include jars, flowerpots, tissue boxes and jewellery boxes.

She told The Telegraph in an interview that to make the various shapes of jars and other household utensils she used such instruments as moulds. She later pastes dry seeds of (moduba or any other she finds suitable for a product) trees around the produce to make a beautiful exterior facade; using glue as an adhesive.

“I live next to a clinic where there are a lot of old newspapers and advertiser booklets. I ask for these from staff there and they give them to me freely. I also gather from neighbours who read many papers. I then soak them in water for three days and thereafter trudge them using traditional wooden mortar and gouge. I thereafter bond the mesh onto the exterior or interior of whatever paraphernalia; I wish to make its shape. I leave them for three days to dry. Once they are dry, I detach them from their ‘platforms’ and apply adhesive glue in the exterior of my product to glue seeds of various plants. These are often blown out by winds and are considered rubbish. Now glued into waste paper look at their appearance,” explained Mabifi excitedly.

In some of her products, she bonded in seeds of eucalyptus plants – also scattered around homes by winds.

No doubt, coated with vanish, the ornaments can make wonderful decorations even in ceramic tiled houses. Proof of that was when some of the products were bought there at the festival at prices ranging between P400 and P800. Therefore, when other people were spending money there at the same venue, and polluting the environment with all sorts of waste materials, she was preaching conservation as well as collecting some cash.

She said that she learnt the art from someone she knew by just watching her do it. She has since so mastered the skill that she even bits her mentor. The use of seeds and vanish coating are her own creativity and she is proud of that.

“I started moulding these things early this year. For a while, I did not know how to market my products. I later approached social welfare officers so they help me. When they organised an arts show in July, my products got position one. I have ever since never looked back,” she said.
Among her challenges are clients who get things on credit and never pay. Some just talk of the beauty of the products but never buy. She is also looking for a bigger area to work from.

She said she does not recycle only paper but even cement and brick products that people dump everywhere. She is looking forward to having partners in business to share her lake of ideas. She envisions herself in the next five years, running a recognisable recycling business as she finds its potential in the way waste is a headache to society and leadership alike in the country.


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