The process of using paper to create new different things might sound like it would be complex, but in reality it’s pretty simple. I realised it when I visited “Shedia Art”, a place in the center of Athens, where they create a lot of things that we can actually use, such as lamps, shopping bags, clocks, jewelry and many more fantastic items, out of the unsold copies of “Shedia” magazine. If you feel ambitious, you can actually try to recreate them by yourself using anything, from old wrapping paper to newspapers and magazines.
Before we go further we need to explain more about “Shedia” magazine. “Shedia” is a monthly magazine, with articles, comics and of course political topics. You will not find this magazine in kiosks or newspaper stands, as it is published to support homeless, unemployed and overaged people. They sell the magazine in different places across the city, in Athens and in Thessaloniki, like outside metro stations or other crowded places. It is easy to recognise them, because they are wearing red vests.
All the unsold copies are used for the “Shedia Art” project. The usual practice that print media follow is to recycle the unsold copies, by giving them to companies that specialize in paper recycling. Internationally, alternative waste management is based on the following steps: prevention of waste, re-use, recycling, reusable materials and renewable energy and, finally, landfill. “Shedia Art” project’s aim is to avoid wasting paper, to reduce their environmental footprint, while creating some social opportunities.
You might think: How is recycling related to arts? The unsold copies of “Shedia” magazine are gathered at the “Shedia Art” lab, where the process of reusing them starts. I saw by myself how you can create clay out of paper: The paper is cut into small pieces and left in a mixture of water and glue for 24 hours. Finally with the help of a special mixer they turn this mixture into paper clay, with which they create clocks, jewelry, etc. It might take a lot of time, but it’s fun too. The best part about this process is that any material they use is eco-friendly, non-chemical and non-plastic.
What makes this project special is that these products are created by people who come from the network of the people who sell the magazines. They create these items themselves, they sell them and so they can have a decent income.
“Shedia Art” is a project where love, solidarity, education, participation, social reintegration, creativity, social entrepreneurship, innovation and environmental awareness are brought together. And yes, I decided to volunteer in “Shedia Art”, after visiting “Shedia Home”, the perfect café, where they exhibit all their creations!
Photos by Mortaza Rahimi