Junk Jewellery -School Holiday programme April 2013

Twenty years ago in London I met a Polish man who could not comprehend the level of waste that he was seeing all around him, especially in his job in an East End mountain bike shop. He had grown up in an austere Warsaw during the 1970s and 80s and as a teenager worked several additional jobs at night, as most of his fellow Poles had to, to make ends meet. In his case it was sewing canvas tents and assembling Rubik’s cubes. In his new home in London it was natural for him to work long hours after everyone else had gone home. He used the time to construct bikes entirely out of discarded parts that would have been bound for the rubbish heap. Having owned one of these bikes, I know that they were superb. I’m not sure whether we are any less wasteful nowadays. But at least some of the new generation is seeing what can be made out of so-called ‘scrap’. This happened at Aratoi last week at a ‘Junk Jewelry’ workshop led by Tina-Rae Carter, assisted by Greytown designer and maker of recycled vintage jewelry Angie van Manen, and parents. Kids were directed to a bewildering hoard of materials sourced by Tina, and then got busy with superglue, soldering irons and sheer brute force. Seeing the activity in the foyer and a space available, Gallagher (11) jumped in. “As soon as he heard that there was soldering involved, he wanted to be part of it,” said mum Kerry. Gallagher’s ‘pendulum’ was edgy and intricate, a triumph of balance. The wonders of superglue enabled Neo (11) to make a leather, plastic and brass composite object which he dubbed ‘The Thing’. It would have looked completely at home around a model’s neck on a New York runway, or as the accessory of choice at a Steam Punk convention. Max (8) had fun making his robots ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’ from miscellaneous objects including transformers and resistors, and Maddy (7) made a necklace for herself and a “door knob decoration” for her brother. Clara (8) focused intently on her leather, plastic and fabric necklace, and with a few minutes to spare made some matching brooches that her mother Susana proudly wore home: “Clara came along because she wants to be a designer,” she said. Zachery said he was going to write a mythological story when he got home, featuring the “jeweled snake”, and bird pendant he had made. Tina-Rae was pleased with the event: “This is a fun and inspiring way of working, it’s just unlimited,” she says. “The kids were making creative decisions all the time and proving that you can make something quirky and interesting completely out of recycled materials.” “I was impressed with the creativity of the kids,” says Angie. “It was very self generated, and most of them knew what they wanted to do. They seemed very motivated and all made unique things.”