Papercraft: Transforming old newspapers into something beautiful and useful

Analee Garcia

Analee Garcia, 55, is a domestic helper who also works as a part-time office cleaner – and a paper crafter. She can make something out of almost anything – left over newspaper becomes flower vases, bags, paper chandeliers, laundry baskets and pen holders. She sells her skillful artworks for prices ranging from KD 5 to KD 50, depending on the size and design. “People buy my products not only because they are beautiful, but also because they know how much effort I put into it,” she told Kuwait Times. Analee manages both her jobs and still finds time for her hobby. Moreover, through her newfound pastime, she earns extra to support her family.

“For my paper craft job, I collect newspapers from many offices that are in my apartment building. Thankfully, they have a steady supply of newspapers, so I collect them a day later,” Analee said. She said she discovered her love for paper craft when she started working as a cleaner. “I was clearing my boss’ desk and noticed a pile of newspapers. Just when I was about to throw them away, I saw a beautiful paper candy holder made out of newspaper on the center of the table. My colleague who made it inspired me to put the newspapers to good use,” she said.

Analee learned the art of paper craft from her colleague, and what started as a pastime soon turned into a passion. “I went to my colleague’s house to learn how to make the candy holder,” she recalled. “At first I only wanted to recycle newspapers, but soon I became more passionate about it and wanted to create more and more artifacts, so I started collecting newspapers,” she told Kuwait Times.

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Hobby into passion
This hobby has now become a part of her everyday life in Kuwait. When she displayed her work at a community event for the first time, it all sold out within a few hours. She then made some more because of pending orders. “This inspired me to make and sell more. My boss is very supportive of it and all the earnings come to me – they take nothing from it,” she said.

Analee, who is unmarried, is the mother of an adopted son. The boy is now 16 years old. Ironically, Analee said that she herself was adopted, just like her son. “I only knew about my situation (of being adopted) a few years before my parents died. My foster mother died after a cataract operation due to an infection. I was 14 years old at that time. Then, my foster father remarried and I felt mistreated, so after sixth grade I left home,” she said.

“At the age of 12, I was living on my own to survive. I had to work from a very young age because I knew none of my siblings would ever show up to help. I applied for all sort of jobs – from a construction worker to a farm worker to a caretaker of a fishpond. I also worked as a street cleaner, clerk and timekeeper,” she said.

At 22, Analee met her biological father. “I remember it was at a party that one of the attendees claimed to know my mother. That man was my father. He said I looked exactly like my mother, so he knew I was his daughter. My father was quite famous in town, but on visiting him at his house, his wife tried to bribe me to keep quiet. I only wanted to meet my father, but I was hurt, so I told her not to worry since it would be my first and last visit,” she said.

Analee is a hard worker. She never complains or pretends that she is fine. She admitted that there was a time in her life when she was addicted to alcohol and smoking. But she managed to quit these vices after adopting her son. “A known ‘hilot’ (a herbalist) brought to my home a two-week-old baby – the mother had abandoned him because she didn’t want her family to learn about his birth. I turned the child over to the village chieftain, who said the DSWD (Department of Social Workers and Development) will decide the fate of the child. Eventually, they gave me legal rights to adopt the child, who is now 16 years old. He knows his status and my responsibility towards him as his mother. He is a blessing and I love him very much,” she said.

Single mom, hard working
Like many single mothers, Analee was working hard. Her company at that time assigned her to Baguio City. “While in Baguio City for a job, I got a chance to meet Mary Corazon, my current boss. She is a Filipina married to a Kuwaiti. She helped me out with the domestic helper job. I have been working with her family for more than 10 years now. They treat me as a member of the family. And the part-time job was a reward for being a loyal worker, which I am proud of,” she said.

Analee also thanked Philippines Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa for the invitation to display her work. “He purchased some of my work and displays them in his office. I was very proud of it. He has also invited me to display my work at the embassy this month. So I’ve been busy. Now orders are pouring in – sometimes I have no time for myself because of these orders,” she said. “I only studied till sixth grade – when I need inspiration, I visit YouTube and Google,” she added.

Analee was recently invited by a group to demonstrate her work and share her knowledge about paper craft. She said she loves to share her skills with anyone who would like to learn more about this art form.

By Ben Garcia

This article was published on 18/05/2017