GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - Tessa O'Halloran, a young entrepreneur from Graaff-Reinet, is, with the help of her family, making inroads into the recycled and upcycled market with innovative bags made mainly from unwanted plastic grocery bags.
Tessa, who is originally from Pietermaritzburg, moved to Graaff-Reinet with her parents and younger sister Erin in 2015, after spending many years in Botswana.
She spent just over three years in Graaff-Reinet doing freelance writing, photography and casual work, before becoming involved in her current project, plasticity.
She has always been interested in handicraft work, and in 2017 began experimenting with ways to use waste products to create practical but unusual items. She discovered that plastic grocery bags could be fused together, and by putting three to five bags together, a strong and attractive material could be created.
From this, and with the help of her mother Helen (who is the sewing expert in the family), she has created her prototype product, a zipped bag about the size of a pencil box. By using the pattern and script on the bags in different ways, she manages to create one-of-a-kind products finished in many different ways.
Some of the finished bags clearly show the branding of the original plastic bag, and others in her more recent production are rather more chic, using the colours and patterns on the originals to produce a more upmarket product.
She is currently researching how to work with other waste materials, and is not confining her source materials for the original bags to grocery bags.
Some of the more striking examples that can be seen on the photo gallery of plasticity's Facebook page include ones using the strong opaque plastic bags used for washing powder and fabric conditioners, and these certainly make very striking and novel gifts.
Tessa recently moved to Cape Town, where she is involved in the marketing and development of her products. Her mother and sister Erin are handling the production side of the business in Graaff-Reinet, and hope to soon be at the stage where they can offer employment to locals.
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