Mutuku handicrafts :) – brought on by life, inspired by mutuku, created by Petra...

From my childhood on, it was our family’s habit to say: "Let’s not throw this away, it might be good for something." Which, of course, resulted in an immeasurable mass of thrash; on the other hand, this mess also turned into a field of creativity. We constructed innumerable do-it-yourself tools, if we happened to be short of any chance to get the original of something. Of course, I wasn’t always proud of doing this – and yet, somehow, these are beautiful memories. It was precisely for this reason that for me, Kenya was heaven on earth, a place where recycling takes on a fantastic form. Sure, it is annoying that all this is partly the result of below-par infrastructure, but it is uplifting to see what beauties can be born out of things that for convenience’s sake, we generally consider already worthless.

I don’t know how this can happen but in spite of all the environmental consciousness, somehow plastic bags accumulate. In spite of the fact that these days, I almost always have a bag for bakery goods, and one for fruits and vegetables, in my pocket. And yet. This is already a development; a few years ago, I noticed that several kilos of “might-be-good-for-something” plastic bags were occupying the kitchen. Sound familiar? What do I do with them? I don’t have a dog; these tiny bags aren’t suitable for trash bags, and anyway, this much trash doesn’t even accumulate during three years’ time in my home — especially since I have taken up composting, unable to even throw away potato peelings. And then via a lot seeking and searching... I struck on a method, by means of which plastic bags can be made into a kind of yarn, which in turn can be used to crochet anything you want.

There was no question about giving the name Mutuku to the little objects that I was going to make. Mutuku is the child that grew up in the Kenyan orphanage, who – in spite of the foundation suggesting we rather don’t pick a favorite but try and pay equal attention to every child – became my favorite. Of course, I could’ve named my objects after Beatrice. She is the girl who, upon getting two meters of yarn into her hands, instantly crochets something out of it. Then, like Amaranta from Hundred Years’ Solitude, she undoes it, and crochets something new out of it again — of course, for a different reason than the novel’s character. A while ago, I sent her a sample of the baggies I crocheted out of plastic bags; I hope she liked them. Although (attention: irony to follow) in underdeveloped Kenya, disposable plastic is already prohibited, so maybe this isn’t a solution for her.

Dissoluble bags are my great enemy, (for want of a better idea, I make amigurumi figures and line them with these bags), as well as torn plastic. Although for the latter, I’m dabbling into another technique: I weave it. These were also among the objects I sent to the Taita Shop. I always welcome plastic baggies (especially if they are clean), I can gobble up any amount of them. In my home, their supply just barely builds up, and believe me, if you begin collecting them, such an incredible amount can gather within a short time that it is the best education. I got five kilos for Christmas; I thought I’d never want any more but I run out of it, so please contact me if you happen to have such basic materials for me.

And don’t forget what we ourselves heard frequently from Sister Willy, the orphanage’s director: “If many little people at many little places do many bits of good, the world will change.”