At Our Workshop in Langa you can learn to make new things using old things. Designer Heath Nash created this free shared studio space where anyone can get together with everyone there and spend time sharing knowledge and making stuff.

You can learn from Anele Nono (@Jeanuisplatform) how to customise and embroider denim jackets, from others you can learn to make wire sculptures, sew clothes, make upcycled heart pendants… Or learn the basics of handstitching, plaster carving, pottery, leatherwork… Why, you might ask?

Well besides learning new skills, upcycling trash and meeting new people, you make money. “You can turn other people’s trash into money,” says Heath. He knows. Heath is the designer who makes beautiful objects out of plastic waste and wire, and who has exhibited and sold his work internationally. And of course discarded stuff finds a second life, keeping it out of landfills.

“Most places in Africa have this problem with litter, but it’s money on the ground. If trash is used correctly, it can be turned into income. You can make something and sell it. Make something useful for your neighbour. See it for something different to what it is. You can make a new kind of curio or craft item.”

Heath closed his own factory five years ago, and opened Our Workshop in Cape Town’s city centre a few years later. The workshop, a non-governmental organization, moved to the Guga S’Thebe Arts and Culture Centre in Langa late last year.

“We want this to be about racial integration as well as spending time together,” says Heath. “It’s about sharing our resources and books. Our Workshop acts as a tool library too, because not everyone has a drill.”

Heath has wanted to collaborate more.  “I want to make new things that I couldn’t have possibly done unless made with someone else. I want to find ways to work together, to butt heads and really come up with something creative,” he says.

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Photo credits: Supplied