Sunday, March 25, 2012

Treasures From Trash and Batik Making

From Trash to Treasures

I have commented before on the problem of trash here. As I have pointed out, in the old days, anything you didn’t want could be tossed on the ground and, after a few months, it would biodegrade and become dirt.  With the introduction of plastic bags, along with plastic and metal containers, trash has become a problem, because these things do not biodegrade. Because of the custom of just throwing trash on the ground or over the wall of your courtyard, and the lack of any organized rubbish disposal, things can get pretty ugly.

One of the big contributors to the trash problem is the plastic bags merchants put things in when you make a purchase.  In Bobo there is a women’s organization that uses discarded plastic bags to make things. 
 First they go out and collect them from the streets and wash them.
 Then they cut them into narrow strips, twist the plastic so it is quite thin, and then weave it between black threads so it looks like this material the woman is cutting.
 Then they sew pieces together to create useful things..

 Here is their display room where you can see the many types of purses and bags they created from this material.  Once when I went there, there was even a jacket made from these recycled bags.  I am sorry that I did not take its picture!
 Many of the things I will show you here and in future blogs about arts and crafts were on display, and being made, at a place in the capital, Ouagadougou, called the Artisan Village. People have workshops here where you can see them making their products, and, of course, buy things. Here is a man making wooden boxes that he will cover with leather from a camel.
 The people who make this are originally from the desert regions of Burkina Faso and Mali.  Here are just a few of the kinds of boxes they make. 
Another craft is making things from horns of various animals.I believe these are from cattle.

Toys and other useful objects from Trash

Some of the things we saw used bottle caps to make various items.  How would you like earrings made from the bottle caps of your favorite beverage? (Shades of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter?)
Or maybe a wastebasket, lamp or magazine rack decorated with bottle tops?
People also use discarded cans to created models of things like motorcycles,
and cameras.

Batik Making

I suspect you have seen batiks, and perhaps have even make them in art classes. Batik wall hangings are very common tourist items and I like them a lot.  I have several of them decorating my house as you may have seen in earlier blogs.  Here is how you make them.  You sketch out the design you want to make and cover most of it with wax.  You put the material in dye, and the parts that were not protected with wax pick up the color of the dye.  Here are some batiks in the making, drying after being in the red dye. 

When your work is dry, you iron out all the wax and cover all but the areas you want to be the next color with a new coat of wax. Here a man is protecting the sky (that he is painting black) in the background from the dye he is going to put the cloth in next. Some things in the picture may get several layers of dye to make a darker color.
One of the features of the batik process is that, when you put the material into the dye, the wax tends to crack along the fold lines, resulting in tiny lines in the parts that have been covered with wax throughout the dying, as you can see in this close-up picture. It is one of the signatures of the batik process.
After several repetitions of this process, you have the finished product.  Here are several examples, shown by their creators. 

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