Magpie art

You may remember that I attended the Waste To Art workshop for adults to learn about art upcycling: I went to learn for myself and to generate ideas for a kids’ upcycling activity I was doing for Creative Berowra Market I started saving household items that were kid-safe and no longer wanted in our house, but I didn’t know what I wanted the kids to do with them.

Robot made by four girls

I kept looking at the items in terms of what they could make. Everything I was saving, I noticed, was machine-made: plastic cartons, bottle tops, worn out barracuda tubes (a barracuda is a brand of pool hoover that cleans up the leaves in your pool by itself), cardboard boxes, foil coverings etc. This suggested ROBOT to me and, as these are generally popular with kids, I thought a ‘MAKE YOUR OWN ROBOT’ craft workshop was a good idea.

There then followed weeks of collecting, washing out, removing labels and ordering of household containers intended as robot parts. Our kitchen/sitting room resembled a dump by the end which I think must have got on my husband’s nerves (though he kindly did’nt say anything.) However I was bothering differently: I was wondering if this dump of mine would be inspiring or whether I would look like a mad woman at the market surrounded by piles of rubbish!

Robot made by a boy

Sunday was the day of reckoning: things didn’t look good at the beginning when a  stallholder commented on how original it was having a stall on the ground, lying as it was on a large picnic blanket rather than on a a table (although if you read my latest novel The Janus Brew, you’d know that that was a common practice at markets in earlier centuries). I felt embarrassed she thought I was a stallholder and that  I was attempting to sell these things, but in retrospect, it reminded me that the value of something is powerfully governed by its display. I had picked up some steel items from Kimbriki dump when I went to the Waste to Art workshop that were going free. Some were in good condition and, laid out neatly on the rug, perhaps they could have been taken as items you would buy.

TheHunterGatherers wordpress bloggers took this photo when they visited with their crafty kids

Similarly through children’s eyes, my bits of “rubbish” offered a world of possibility and creative value – they became magpies where anything that glitters must be gold. They were ‘nt  using the things you regularly find in bought craft boxes – they could build big and use things wildly different in character. My parts were also freebies: there was no price for attending the craft workshop. All robots, and their constituent parts, could be taken home by their maker (and almost all were…happily leaving me with hardly any stuff to take home and recycle.) All I supplied, which Creative Berowra funded, was four rolls of heavy duty mounting tape at $2.00 a roll, and brightly coloured paint for me to cover the boxes and containers with beforehand so they were extra-appealing to kids, plus my own scissors.

You can see from the photos how much the children embraced the activity.

My daughter making her robot. She’s 4 years old & concentrated on this for well over an hour!

They all spent at least half an hour, and often much longer, making their creations. I helped them by cutting things up as requested or supplying bits of tape but they were firmly in the driving seat: deciding what to use, where to put it and sticking it on. I had no idea of how crazily popular it was going to be, to the extent that if my mother-in-law had not been in the vicinity,  I would have been overwhelmed by the robot-making frenzy!

My fellow market organisers were thrilled, as were the parents of the children, which included a mum who had a stall at the market and was looking after her kids at the same time, and a family from out of the area who loved the market experience so much they wrote a blog about it when they got home! Here is a quote (you will find their full, glowing, review of the Creative Berowra market at :

You know that saying, give a kid a fantastical high tech toy and all they really want is the box to play in? Well Creative Berowra have put this concept to good use. One of the big hits for kids at the market consisted of a picnic blanket lain under the shade of a tree and strewn with the contents of a recycle bin – cardboard, yogurt containers, plastic bottles, foil, bottle tops etc. With the aid of glue, sticky tape, scissors and their imagination, kids were asked to create a robot. One of our girls created a pink robot using toilet rolls, whilst the other made a video game console utilising an empty roll on deodorant as the touch pad. Genius!

Another great robot!

So this upcycling adventure was definitely worthwhile and very satisfying. It’s encouraged me to keep trusting my creativity when I’m uncertain of the outcome. In short : to take risks.

Concentrating on crafting robots


One comment

  1. Awesome post. I truly loved this concept as a market stall.
    I agree, we should all take more risks in life and who better to show us the way than children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: