Tools and Tutorials


Bottle Cutter Tutorial (pdf)
This tool was most likely developed in South America, though I cannot find any information about it online. I had heard about it being used by villagers near Salta, Argentina many years ago, though never saw it. I learned how to make it from Rajasthani artist Vishal Dhaybhai, who had figured it out from an online photo that he believes came from Brazil. We introduced the tool to Eastern Bhutan in 2013, where it is now widely used. See its use for plastic bottle weaving below.











Rope Winder
Made from scrap wood and a metal coat hanger, a rope winder can be made to facilitate the manual winding of materials into ropes. This winder is made for three ply ropes, but a winder can just as easily be made for 4 or more ply ropes. The holes accomodating metal hooks need to be equidistant. I will work on a tutorial for this tool and post it in the future.


Basic Weaving Frame
This weaving frame was adapted from a Bhutanese backstrap loom frame for weaving plastic bottle string (see Bottle Cutter Tutorial to understand how to make bottle string). Plastic bottles cannot be woven with a backstrap, since the string is curly and needs constant tension. I made a simple heddle to lift half of the strings, and a shed stick can be inserted to raise the other half. For tutorials on how to make weaving heddles etcetera, I suggest visiting Laverne Waddington's excellent blog called Backstrap Weaving.

Other Tutorials:

The following tutorials were developed to help reduce and reuse soft plastic waste.

Plastic Wrapper Cutting Tutorial (pdf) illustrates how to quickly cut any kind of tube (plastic wrappers, plastic bags, even t-shirts and Tetrapak juice boxes) into one long string. Then, the string can be wound into rope (see rope winder images above) or woven into a textile.

The Karma Cushion (pdf) was adapted from traditional Tibetan floor cushions to utilize soft plastic waste as the fill. The cushion has inner walls to help keep the fill from flattening with time. Karma cushions are being made from old monks robes and plastic wrappers at monsateries in SE Bhutan to manage plastic waste (monks robes are also made from synthetic materials) and provide floor cushions for the community. For more information, you can contact the Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative.

The Alternating Walls Cushion (pdf)
was something I developed as an easier way to sew the Karma Cushion. The compartments in this cushion help prevent soft plastics from compacting too much over time.

Plastic Bag Ironing (pdf) is now a well-known technique used to make any number of items, including bags and furniture. It works best with LDPE (#4) soft plastics.



T-shirt Bags (pdf) are easy to make and provide an alternative to similarly-designed plastic grocery bags. This is a commonly used technique that I learned from Cheryl Lohrman of Create Plenty, in Portland, Oregon.

Umbrella Bag Tutorial (pdf) illustrates how to make a light, compact and water-proof bag. I never leave home without mine. I came up with this design, but it was inspired by the work of Casa Project, in Tokyo, Japan.

The Sari Bag (pdf) was designed to reuse old robes discard by Buddhist monks in SE Bhutan. The robes, once made from cotton, are now made from synthetic fabrics and are disposed of by burning, which is harmful to the environment.