recycling, creativity, art and made in Uganda right at home


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MY weekend has been quite satisfactorily artsy and hands-on, starting with Friday’s delivery of this superb pot by Christopher Bigomba, after months of saving up for it.
I met Chris about five years ago under circumstances I can’t remember right now, and got him intricately involved in producing some bespoke pieces of art for me, in his specialty style.
He is a master at painting bottles, and I was a master at collecting them. Putting the two characteristics together and lubricating it with money and patience resulted in a very colourful collection of pieces that are dotted all round our home.
img_20160228_093310.jpgI’ve always been fascinated by how easily these bottles can be turned from rubbish into art, and spend too much time worrying that there cannot be enough time in the world for Chris to paint ALL the bottles in Uganda.
Enter Ronnie Kyazze, a pal I met under other circumstances I won’t go into now either, but that involved Land Rovers.
As we were discussing the mechanics of the vehicles one day, I found out he was actually an IT guy.
While we were talking about our IT interests, I spotted a neat wooden bird house hanging out of an avocado tree in his garden. It was so much better than the plastic doll house I had taken from my daughter and tied to a disposable plastic party plate, that I had to ask him for its source.
He had made it himself.
Then he told me he even decorates and cuts used bottles – and shot into the house to get me one. The word ‘non-plussed’ popped up in my mind, and that day I left with the gift of a glass he had cut from an old wine bottle.
Many months later he came over to take us through some bottle painting and cutting lessons.
I had neglected to soak my accumulation of bottles in water the night before, which is essential for getting the labels and their adhesive to peel off neatly. So I rallied the children round to help soak the bottles, before we washed them and peeled the labels off.
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After soaking them for a while the bottle labels and adhesive gave way to my pen knife scraping quite easily, and Ronnie threw in some liquid soap to quicken the process so that within a couple of hours we had an array of clean bottles in front of us ready to receive our bottled up creativity.
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That reminds me – back when I was a child I once scored 22% in a fine art assignment and my teacher was appalled. Her comments made it clear that I would never amount to much as far as fine art was concerned. I intend for none of the children I interact with to EVER grow up with such an idea in their minds.
We put together spray paint cans (only five colours), string, raffia, sisal, glue (different types), jute, some sea shells, masking tape and paper (recycled).
While cleaning the bottles I got to dismantle the pouring stoppers and extracted some glass marbles as well, specifically from Johnny Walker bottles – which I later sprayed golden and added to the decorative mix as beads.
For the designs we used the masking tape round the bottles, and stencils cut out of the disused paper, and the raffia and sisal.
The results were not as great as Christopher Bigomba’s, or even Ronnie’s own, but we were proud of our work.
After that we got to cutting bottles and creating self-watering planters as well as glasses. The process is so simple that, again, it’s a wonder that so many bottles still go into dustbins in this country.
Ronnie whipped out a bottle-cutter – which basically holds the bottle in place and enables you to make an etching where you want to cut it. After that, we poured hot and cold water along the etching simultaneously until the bottle came apart quite smoothly, before we sanded the edges down.

At the end of the day, we had a good array of decorative bottles and self-watering planters being looked over by my small group of highly energised young ones with proven creative juices in full flow.

Plus, if all else fails, we can make a living out of this – selling these recycled items Made In Uganda.

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 And there are certain ladies in our lives who are happy with these gifts:
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following up the wheelbarrow full of ideas with real-life implementation


Remember this story? This one —> https://skaheru.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/a-wheelbarrow-full-of-ideas/

Here I am to proudly report progress, with photographs to prove so.

See, I put my local metal worker guy to task after that post and insisted that he converts the satellite dish sitting in my back yard into a wheelbarrow of sorts.

What I had in mind was a simple contraption that we would put to use carrying gardening waste from the garden to the disposal point, and perhaps conveying heavy shopping one day when I am earning a regularly heavy salary (#OmugaggaSsiMuntu things).

After design discussions and my insistence on one or two points, the guy gave me a bill of Ushs75,000 and I gave him the dis-used satellite dish a Ushs40,000 deposit, and a stern deadline of today because I wanted to do some gardening and felt I could do with a wheelbarrow of sorts to help me out.

Three days later, today, I called him up to complain about his lack of seriousness and to express my disappointment with him for failing to deliver on time, only for him to cut me short with, “I am on my way!”

He has learnt my ways, and was taking me seriously.

But I did NOT expect THIS!

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He made a real wheelbarrow!

I was genuinely nonplussed for a few seconds! In my mind, the dish was going to be deepened a little bit and it’s protruding end was going to be fashioned into a handle while the other side would get a wheel appended to it.

He had made a wheelbarrow! He had cut into the dish on the different sides, and folded it up to form the barrow, then fabricated the rest.

You can probably see the dstv logo here:

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Now, I own a wheelbarrow made of recycled materials.

Made in Uganda.

I only came here to report progress – I’m heading back outside. I’ll be the one riding a wheelbarrow the rest of this weekend.

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