Papercraft Co-operative, from Kampala in Uganda, make our handmade paper products and recycled glass jewellery

Papercraft was set up in 2006 to provide a sustainable income for a group of socially disadvantaged Ugandans (mainly women) through the production and sale of handmade paper products and recycled glass jewellery. The majority of Papercraft employees had struggled to find previous employment elsewhere and were unable to support their families.

The paper making process involves banana fibres, pineapple tops and elephant grass being cut into small pieces and boiled until soft, then blended into a pulp mixed in large water containers and removed using screens of mosquito mesh which are then put in the sun to dry. Finally the dry sheets of paper are removed, put into a press to flatten them and turned into a range of beautifully designed products. 

Paper Craft provides additional income to local farmers by purchasing elephant grass and banana fibre.They promote environmental awareness and encourage recycling through buying pineapple tops which are considered waste and would otherwise be burnt, as well as collecting scrap paper from offices in Kampala.

As well as paper products the co-op also make jewellery from recycled glass (mainly broken windows and glass bottles) which is first sorted by colour and then pulverised using a metal mortar and pestle. The glass sand is poured into bead moulds, inserted into a wood fired kiln for 20-30 minutes until the sand melts into molten balls of liquid glass. The moulds are removed and the glass is quickly pierced with a metal skewer creating the centre of the bead. The moulds are then left to cool before being cleaned and crafted into jewellery. The beads are rough, unique and utterly beautiful as each shows the hand-made trademark of each artist that laboured over them.

We visited in 2011 and saw the processes and met members of the co-op, finding out about the benefits working there has brought not only themselves, but also their families and the wider community.




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