Last night, our kids experienced conservation through creativity. Instead of throwing out our old chairs and just buying new ones, we created Duct Tape Art Chairs. It wasn't really money or being ecologically conscious that drove me to spend so much time on this. It's my concern over our Disposable Culture. Everything seems easily replaceable nowadays, from cups to friends to marriages. I want my kids to see value in what they have. To understand that a little creativity can fix something broken and make it more beautiful than the original.
I grew up in a time when we can't just buy and replace everything with a tap on the screen. And even for things that we can buy, our parents instilled in us to use first what's available, to save what we can. Our scratch papers for homework were the back of daily calendars and unused pages of old notebooks. When our rubber thong sandals broke, we would first try to melt the two broken edges over a candle flame and connect them back (I imagined myself as a surgeon fusing bones together). Worn soles of shoes are replaced. School uniforms are passed on to younger siblings or extended family, where faded skirts are dyed to look almost brand new again. We'd get a new set of uniform tailored only when we were in the honor roll and had to get up on stage. Being the smallest in my extended family, that was a good enough incentive to be in the honor roll year after year.
Finding solutions using the tools we've got will exercise our Problem-Solving Creativity. Equally as important, it ingrains in us to value what we've got. To work things out rather than drop things at the first sign of trouble.
Everything seems disposable nowadays. From water bottles to furniture to fast fashion to homes... even building are built to last for just 50 years. Planned Obsolescence has become the norm. Even if you wish to just change a spare part, it's virtually impossible. We've made it the norm to buy a replacement, rather than fix and make do something that still can be fixed.
Sadly, when Disposable becomes a mindset, it starts creeping into other facets in our lives. Including our relationships. On the bright side, people who try fixing what's fixable, tend to be more capable in dealing with
work issues and relationship issues too.
This is why I decided to fix the dilapidated old chairs that are more than twice as old as my eldest. My kids are taobao natives, it is automatic for them to think of buying as the first solution. When they saw how a handful of duct tape was able to transform the chairs into personalized art works, they were inspired to contribute.
When I posted the chairs on Wechat last night, some were asking how to do it. It is really simple, but need time. You can catch up on your TV series or watch some youtube videos simultaneously while working on this.
What you need:
Duct tapes in various colors (Make sure these are the sticky ones, some don't stick well)
Sharp cutters (exacto knife)
1. Unscrew the seat. This is optional, but the edges would look cleaner, and you'll save your back from stooping.
2. Cover the seats with 2 layers of duct tape.
3. Portrait. Stick the duct tape on a sticker base such as a plastic sheet or wax paper (I used old sticker backings). Cut to your desired shapes. Alternatively, if you've got the light touch, you can stick directly on the duct-taped chair and very lightly cut with your cutter.
4. Add details.
These are work in progress. We ran out of duct tape. We'll let the kids design the details themselves. Watch this space.