When I was in Rio de Janeiro three years ago, I came across a man working from a little shack by the side of the road. His shack was full of treasures – all wood and plastic junk ready to be recycled and transformed into magical people and animals (check out the first three photos.) I fell in love with the little sculptures, crudely nailed together, and knew at that moment I would one day teach kids how to make them somewhere else in Latin America. The other day we had our first robot workshop and here is what we made.



A white space, first sales and emerging young artists

After two weeks of opening our workshop, things have moved up up up!

1. We’ve painted the space white (thanks to Marlon, Armando and Enok for the help!) and it looks tonnes better.

2. We’ve sold 2 pairs earrings, 4 key rings and a bracelet already

3. At the recommendation of the kids, we’re giving 50% of the sales price to the maker and keeping 50% to help towards the rent and materials (this project is costing us a lot to start up which we are looking for funding for..) Axel (the local handyman) made us a big table and this weekend we are in Xela to get more supplies – scissors, blutak (impossible to find!) paint, moto tool heads to cut coconuts…


4. The popularity of the workshops is extraordinary. We have up to 25 young artists (Aged between 3-18) regularly coming to the workshop, as well as several adults. If we are running 5 minutes late, the kids come to our house to fetch us. We don’t have any chairs, so everyone stands, but noone is complaining. It’s a squeeze and a fight for the one pair of scissors and our attention! We could do with extra help and are going to advertise for volunteers in the surf camps and hostels.


5. Carla has started a friendship bracelet making bar at the front of the shop  whilst I have been working with kids to find new ways to incorporate tin cans and recycled materials into necklaces and bracelets. So far, we’ve taught the kids how to make bracelets, necklaces, key rings, earrings and mobile phone charms. We are learning ourselves too and there is still a long way to go. The medium term plan is for each piece to have either a recycled or natural (from El Paredon) element to it, instead of just bought beads. We have gradually allowed the kids more freedom and they are already making some really creative, beautiful work. These are some examples:

It is nice to get out of bed with a spring in the step on the way to our studio. Although exhausting trying to help 10 kids at a time, it doesn’t feel like work. It is totally satisfying, creatively. It is exciting that things are happening. And exciting that the town is excited too.

Bottletop curtain

Carla has been using her new fishing net mending techniques to create our new room divider – a curtain made from old bottle tops we found on the beach. This has been a labour of love but it makes us really happy to see these bright colours every day, hear the clunky jingle as we pass through rooms and know that we have made something useful with the man made junk that spoils this gorgeous stretch of sand. We are open to commissions – get in touch if you would like one!


Art from tupperware: Choi Jeong-Hwa

Just discovered the installation artist Choi Jeong-Hwa thanks to Colossal and love how he uses junk and old and found materials to make art.

I love absolutely love the aesthetic of this: Doors

This is what he says about his practice: ‘I couldn’t really draw so I didn’t think I could become a painter, but I really liked walking. So I used to walk between streets and narrow alleys and discover garbage piles and construction sites. I realized that “normal” people built and created things better than artists or professionals. Plus, what they were making was more natural. I decided against becoming an artist and decided instead to be an ordinary person who thinks like an artist.’

‘I like working with worthless materials. I like doing things outside of art museums. I dislike the whole pay system of museums and prefer working and interacting with people outside.’

His other projects include Happy Happy – sculptural installations in bright colours made from tupperware

and Gather Together – art installations made from the junk consumed by spectators at the Seoul Olympics

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