Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Whole New World

(with apologies to all of you who are now going to be singing the Disney song all day long - just like I've been!)

Yesterday, and again this morning, I spent time online exploring a whole new world.  The world of Crafts.  Did you know there are hundreds, probably thousands of websites dedicated to this stuff?  Who knew?! 
One of my favorite places to shop back home is Ten Thousand Villages.  If you don’t know about it, here’s their website:
I love the fact that they help restore dignity and give hope to communities around the world by selling fair trade items crafted by people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to earn a living.  I also love the fact that much of what is sold has been made from recycled or re-used items.  A picture frame made from an old bike chain, a purse of recycled sari material, coasters from used newspapers.

That got me thinking of what we could do here in El Callejon.   I’m trying to find ideas which will use things that people here toss out.  So, onto the web I went.  Recycled crafts seem to be popular, and I found lots of cool projects.  Some of them are quite sophisticated! 
Daisy has been helping the women makes things which they can use to beautify their homes, and also sell at the SI Base.  My dream is that we can continue to find ways to expand that, find ways to help the women, and also continue to share their stories. 

If we can use materials which the women can easily find, there will be very little cost, too.  As much as we love having folks from back home send us crafting supplies (and boy, do we ever!!) we also want the women to see that there are things here, too, they can use.

Do not adjust your settings - it's supposed to be green!
Allowing the women to work at something will help them materially, of course.  But, I believe it helps them emotionally, and even spiritually.  Feeling pride in work well done, learning new skills, being able to earn money for their families, all of this fits in with our vision of restoring dignity to the women of El Callejon. 
Beyond that, I believe it may also help the women to see that even things we consider ugly and disposable can be turned into objects of beauty with care and time and attention.  For those who have been told they have little value, seeing garbage recycled, reclaimed, is a tangible way to reinforce how God renews us through Jesus.  That’s a lesson which goes far beyond making a change-purse out of used chip bags!
See... orange!
Quartered and peeled
Of course, the biggest thing right now is finding doable crafts made of the stuff tossed out in El Callejon.  Oh, and by doable I mean things that Daisy can figure out!  As I've mentioned before, she is amazing, and does an awesome job at teaching the women.  I'm hoping she can teach me how to knit and sew, too!
In the meantime, may I present my first foray into recycled crafting:  Orange Peel jewelry.
I got the idea after some of the girls brought Daisy mandarin oranges the other day (also green!).  There are lots of citrus trees in El Callejon.  Last year I found adorable ornaments and figures made of orange peel at... yep, Ten Thousand Villages! 
Shapes drawn into the pith.  Other tools:  a pair of scissors,
a hole punch, a needle & thread.
Hmmm... what other treasures could this garbage make?  A web search brought up a site with a bracelet made of orange peel.  I was in business!
I cut and quartered the orange, and after removing the yummy insides, I drew some shapes on the pith and started cutting.  The website I found used simple shapes for a simple bracelet.  I thought I'd try a couple of twists.  I love crosses, so that was an obvious choice!  I also rolled some strips for a kind of bead, and then did some other shapes. 
Orange peel pieces ready to be dried.
I’m going to let the peels dry for a day or two, and then see how they look.  I hope to string them, possibly using some of the beads we already have at the site.  I promise I’ll post pictures.  Please go easy on me!  Remember, this truly is a whole new world for me!!

P.S.  If any of you have crafts using things like plastic bags, plastic water bottles, chip bags, bottle caps, or even more orange peel ideas, please send me an email! 

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