The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Objects of joy from recycled junk

It was a session of art and craft, and environmentally-friendly fun and learning. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, belts and tablemats made of beads, soft-drink cans, wires and chocolate and sweet wrappings. The students were schoolteachers, and the teacher was a maker of recycled products from the UK, but the ones to benefit most from the exercise would be the kids in the class and at home. Joanne Lucie Tinker has been propagating her unique brand of creative art for over a decade. On Monday, a bunch of teachers from city schools like Birla High, MP Birla Foundation, The Hope Foundation, St Augustine’s Day School, St Thomas’ and Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, gathered at the British Council for a few tips on environmental and cost-effective crafts.

The mother of two from Middlesex brought along with her bags full of used aluminium cans, wooden and plastic beads, buttons, wires, foil wrappings of chocolates and plastic tubes. Together with some knick-knacks the 33-year-old had asked the participants to bring along, the enthusiastic ‘students’ came up with a treasure-trove of goodies. Some teachers proudly sported their creations, while others stored them for demonstrations back in the classroom.

“It was all very innovative. We do similar stuff ourselves, but it was good to learn new things, especially if it means recycling junk,” smiled Ranu Datta of Apeejay School. Agreeing with her sentiments, Susan Boye of Frank Anthony Public School said: “I learnt a lot of new things today. I teach Class III, which is the right age for them to learn crafts. The girls will love it and the boys will make it for their mothers.” And Tinker was “delighted” with her Calcutta group. “There’s such lovely jewellery in India, I didn’t think there would be interest in artificial stuff. But they all appreciate recycling.”

Munich to Manchester, children’s TV programmes to Vogue magazine, exhibitions and workshops in museums and galleries, fashion shows and an art teacher in a school, Tinker has been pursuing her passion since 1992. For the jewellery-designing graduate, it all began in her last year at university, when she traded in gold and silver for tin cans, burning, painting, cutting, clipping, threading and weaving her way to glory. After two days in Calcutta — another workshop for NGOs and kids is at Manovikas Kendra on Tuesday — she’s off to Mumbai, before heading home to a watercolour class to “get back in touch with art”. Some of her work will be on view at an exhibition, Recycled, organised by the British Council next month.

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