In Senegal, Mali, Kenya and other countries in Africa, resourceful people have long excelled at fashioning toys from the available materials - tin cans, wire and scrap rubber and plastic that we would discard as trash. In addition to brightly colored trucks made from beer cans and wire bicycles, Indigo offers buckets constructed of tomato cans, and lunch-boxes and suitcases from tuna cans (lined with Senegalese funny papers!). Continually searching the world for more such innovations, we also offer cars, planes, purses and frames from Vietnam, tin ornaments from Mexico, papier-mache bowls from South Africa and cars and trucks from Cuba!
A museum show from the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe (and now touring the country) has featured recycled tin crafts such as these from Africa and all over the world. Read about them in the book Recycled Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap by Charlene Cerny and Suzanne Seriff, Abrams/Museum of New Mexico.
Our recycled products were featured in the March 2005 issue of Sky magazine. The article, Bags, Bottle Caps and Tin Cans: Craftspeople from Around the World Create from Recycled Materials tells the story of our long fascination with people's resourceful use of discarded materials:
Philadelphia gallery owner Tony Fisher grew up in Africa. Traveling the continent, his family would often see children playing with homemade toys—creations like cars of scrap wood with shoe-polish cans for wheels, or dolls sewn from shreds of fabric. In homes, he saw kerosene lanterns made from repurposed cooking-oil cans and storage containers made from pieced metal.
This Third World ingenuity still operates today, but what Fisher first saw done to supply things for the home is now also done as marketable folk art. American and European collectors are going to Indigo Arts Gallery, the store Fisher and Devi Cholet launched in 1986, as well as to museum stores and other specialty shops, to buy baskets, home décor, tote bags and toys—all made from surplus or recycled materials.