Brac artist transforming old things into new

A plate of 'bananas and a pumpkin' - recycled art - by Lean Christian
A plate of 'bananas and a pumpkin' - recycled art - by Lean Christian. - Photo: Sister Islands News Agency

From fancy sisal slippers to bottlecap ‘bling bling’, Lean Christian is literally turning trash into treasure with her unique skill for “refreshing up” used things.

The 69-year-old – who lives in Spot Bay – has been a lover of crafts since childhood, when she would use whatever she found discarded to create beautiful things.

“Once I got into it, I couldn’t stop,” she said.

Christian cites her parents, grandparents and forefathers as her inspiration because they had to recycle and reuse everything they had in days gone by.

She recently turned her attention to collecting bottle caps after she noticed family and friends discarding the tops from the many cases of bottled water and drinks they were purchasing.

In her workshop, tables are littered with bits of yellow and checkered cloth ready to be made into ‘bananas’ and other art.

Spray bottles are turned into tealight candle holders and big industrial tissue cardboard rolls into stands for larger candles.

Her favourite creation is the ‘baby turtle’ she made from bottle caps, Christian said.

“I didn’t know it was a turtle … it didn’t look much like a turtle but when people saw it, they said it resembled a baby turtle,” she said.

Christian said, in the past, people used sisal bush to make slippers, bags and decorations.

She said they would cut the green sisal from the bush, scrape it, hang the strands out to dry, and then dye and plait it to make things.

“I remember, as a child, my mother taking me along East End Road to cut sisal. She would let me watch but never touch. She said touching it would cause my skin to itch. She would take it to the sea to scrape away the green pulp. It can itch if you get the juice on your legs and arms,” Christian said.

The slippers were made by tracing someone’s feet on a piece of cardboard, cutting out the trace, and stitching the plaited sisal to it. Cotton was sewn in the toe area and a sisal bow placed on the top.

“We never had cotton like they have today but we had cotton trees,” she said.

The handmade slippers were sent to Little Cayman to sell to tourists.

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