In the hands of five artisans from the outskirts of São Paulo, discarded wood gains life. Small boxes, lampshades, trays, brushes and gadget cases are created and constructed through the technique of marquetry, using both sheets of wood and pieces of solid wood.
All of the material is either found on the streets or donated by stores, carpentry shops and even butchers, which provide bones and horns that complement the pieces.
The work is part of the Pinocchio Project – Giving Life to Wood, created this year by youths from Perus, a neighborhood in the outskirts of the city of São Paulo, in the southeastern Brazilian state that goes by the same name.
Cleiton Ferreira, one of the projects’ five artisans, says the idea came up after they took a marquetry course offered by the São Paulo city government. After mastering the art of woodwork, they decided to take their knowledge into their community by teaching new artisans. This year, they formed their first class of students.
"We want to show people that it is possible to learn a craft and earn an income out of it," says Cleiton, who makes a living out of his work in the Pinocchio Project. In addition to forming professionals in a low-income community, they help reuse raw material that otherwise would become garbage in the big city streets.
The products made by the five founders of Pinocchio are promoted mainly in big fairs that take place in the city. This year, they participated in five fairs, the last one being about industrial environment.
"We have only been to fairs in which there is free space for social projects. Otherwise, we would have no means of paying for the space," says Cleiton. Nevertheless, the fairs yielded strategic contacts. Presently, they have a considerable amount of orders, both from direct consumers and retailers.
The Pinocchio Project pieces cost from 15 reais (US$ 7) – for small boxes – to 200 reais (US$ 92) – for tables, lampshades and other more refined items. According to Cleiton, the trend is for them to make more and more furniture. It will all depend on demand.
The Pinocchio Project is part of a bigger project for social inclusion, entitled Quilombaque Cultural Community, aimed at getting youths from Perus in touch with themes in Brazilian culture that have been forgotten by the majority of the population. Or, as Cleiton would put it, to promote the "rescuing of excluded cultures." In addition to cultural and artistic workshops – including a percussion group that works with regional rhythms -, the group promotes documentary film screenings, carries out debates, and guides researches and studies on Brazilian culture, especially Afro-descendant culture.
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