Upcycle at “Lefika la Phodisa”

trainingWe are all artists. We are all creative. We were born with the gift of being able to create things with our hands. As young children we enthusiastically believe this with all our hearts as we play & easily form & create things with our hands inspired by the free range of our imagination. As we grow older & move through the education system, we lose the enthusiasm & confidence of creativity. It is as if our natural ability to create is taught out of us as we conform to societal expectations of who we need to be to be successful or at least accepted.

Winnie Mc Henry of Upcycle talks about this as she introduces what Upcycle does at an opening circle of youth training held in the Lefika La Phodiso space (meaning rock of holding or healing). Lefika is a community art counselling & training centre, one of Africa’s first psychoanalytically informed community centres, based at the Children’s Memorial Institute on Constitution Hill in Jhb.

Upcycle was invited by Naomi Schauer of C.O.N.E.C.K.T to do a training workshop with participants from the “Yes 4 Youth” initiative. Upcycle’s focus on training with the youth was to make beads for jewellery from paper. A forefront mission of Upcycle is to teach people that you do not have to have an income to start a business. All waste in our environment can be repurposed to create a product of value. Upcycling is a process that happens before recycling. Its core function being redirecting waste to functional usage so that it avoids landfill.

The process of reinventing waste is a process that stems from the principals of design thinking. 

Read more: Upcycle at “Lefika la Phodisa”

Paper Beading

paper beads traning 1 borderPhenomenal Paper Beads can create incredible jewellery while helping to reduce our impact on landfills

As in all our training segments, our focus starts with reducing the impact of waste in landfills. Paper beading is no exception. Our two objectives when doing training are always, skills development as well as educating those we teach about ways to keep our planet green.

Paper Beading

I think it’s safe to say that most people have a bookshelf in their home with old magazines that they promise to read again, but simply never get to. These same magazines collect dust and eventually get tossed in a dustbin or recycling bin and then? ... Off to a landfill. Why not take these magazines or corporate annual reports and other periodicals and educate a community in upcycling.
Teaching community members to be environmentally aware and then adding lessons on beading skills, helps those less fortunate, makes them a better living. The crafting industry is vast and limitless and it’s an exceptionally good way for the lower income, or previously disadvantaged individuals to start a business with very little outlay. How much simpler and less expensive could it be? Some old magazines, a pair of scissors, a paint brush, a pin and some varnish and you’re on your way.



When we do training, we are often met with wide open eyes, frowns and plenrty doubt. That changes when we start to talk about upcycling, the importance of aiding our environment and the way to view “junk” differently. We teach learners the dangers of relying on landfills sites; we stress the importance of each person’s responsibility in terms of the “junk” they create daily. We explain the need for upcycling and stress the impact our excess waste and pollution, has on our landfills and the planet. We explain that recycling is good, but upcycling, is even better as there are no new processes or manufacturing involved. We teach people that it’s easy to empower themselves, just by learning some basic crafting skills, tweaking some creative thinking and mastering their willpower and the possibilities are endless.

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Once everybody is excited about trash, we turn trash into art. It’s incredibly satisfying watching the penny drop when you show learners how to make paper beads. Once they understand the processes involved, they themselves, start to see the possibilities ahead. The camaraderie and team building effects of our training are so clearly visible; the community members always leave our workshops proudly wearing their new handmade creations and eager to show off their newly learned skills. It rarely takes long before our up-skilled learners and making money and selling their creations.

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Paper Beading is incredibly simple.  It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s exciting and it’s expressive.  There are several ways of making your paper beads and once your beads are made, the jewellery you wish to make is endless.  Upcycle has done training in numerous communities and has taught several people the art of paper bead making and they are very happy for a skill that is generating them an income.

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Why not take a look at our easy to follow step by step on paper beading.
Or ... if you are involved in any Corporate Social Investment initiatives, perhaps we can set up a training workshop for your community or even your staff as a team building exercise.paper training background

Give us a call and let’s chat about options.

Contact Winnie


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