This is not about a bunch of mums on a school newspaper collection drive or even a destitute woman rifling through rubbish bins for refundable bottles – this is about a group of women who’re turning waste into artwork – or trash into cash as Jenny Payne put it. I met Jenny in Mitchell’s Plain on Saturday in the Food Court at the Liberty Promenade, a mega honey pot shopping mall in the middle of AZ Berman highway. Flanked by Steers, MacDonalds, the Hungry Lion and KFC, The Women’s Month Craft Workshop was a huge square of cloth covered trestle tables set up like a laager in a food desert. Jenny is an overseer of a craft group of multi-skilled fabric painters, beadworkers, embroiders etc. Her flock were settled behind the trestles doing demos and teaching visitors the tricks of their respective trades. Sandra was making coloured bathsalts to put into recycled glass jars, courtesy of Koo whose logo she cleverly disguised with jolly cut out flowers. She was also making coasters out of wood off-cuts, backed with sheet cork, the left over scraps of which she die-cut into little decorator hand shapes. Wilma was busy with newspaper baskets ‘you roll the paper round a dowel stick first’….and then it gets sort of woven like a basket, painted with a brown varnish so it looks for all the world like – well, a basket! Charlotte had her hands full of little wooden sucker sticks and was showing a shopper how to build them up into a jewellery box. Ideas, interest and potential income flowed in one long creative stream.

On streaming, there was a deluge of visitors at the Homemakers Expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre too over the weekend. Most of them, hooked by the must-have microphoned demo men, leaving with microfibre plastic mops and magic DIY food chopper-grater-slicers. But aside from a tsunami of consumerism, there was also some recycling-consciousness raising at the Future of Design ‘upcyling’ stand – with felted planters around old cool drink bottles by Nuno in conjunction with Handmade For Change,  carry-on shoppers made from old rice bags by Wren Design and crochet baskets out of jersey cloth by yarn-bomber Isabeaupeep.

Flying the green flag!


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