Local artists offer up-cycling workshop to benefit Groundworks Food Shelf

BRATTLEBORO — With an up-cycled twist on basket weaving, a three-part workshop - taught by local artists Jackie Abrams, Jen Wiechers, and Janette Smuts - will benefit the Groundworks Food Shelf.

The workshop, which takes place on three Thursday evenings (March 30, April 6, and April 20) at the River Gallery School's Main Street Studio in Brattleboro, will cover the art of making 'yarn' from used plastic bags to crochet strong, colorful, and multi-purpose tote bags, according to a news release.

“I have been offering this workshop in Brattleboro since 2011, always to benefit the Drop In Center's Food Shelf. It is a great way to use those plastic bags, and to create an environmentally friendly bag,” Abrams says in the release. “Instead of a 'quilting bee,' it is a 'plastic crocheting bee.' Always fun!”

In 2008 and 2009, Abrams developed a fair trade enterprise in Pokuase, Ghana, working with a group of Ghanaian women, focusing on the use of materials that usually litter the environment. The women learned to crochet with plastic bags, creating handbags and wallets that they sold to supplement their subsistence livelihoods.

Workshop participants are encouraged to collect bags from friends and family to be used in the course to make baskets, shopping bags with handles, covered jars, and even sculptural forms.

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