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Recycling Stuff of Dreams

By: KC

Date Posted: 2001-10-08

Nobody usually thinks of recycled plastic bottles as material for dresses. But that’s what Chiyoko Kyuna and her daughter Tamami, are doing exactly. They plan to show their creations off at a fashion show they’re organizing to be held later this month.

Chiyoko cannot her joy as she says that, “I had a long time dream of arranging a fashion show. Now I am 63 year old, and it is just around the corner. I am very proud of my daughter and myself. Lots of people around us are helping, too.” The fashion show is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7 at Tomishiro Chuo Kominkan (Tomishiro Central Community Center).

Chiyoko and her daughter Tamami have created more than 30 dresses made entirely of plastic bottles and white polystyrol. Chiyoko says, “This is our time for the fashion show. These 30 dresses are ready, and they are the fruit of the collaboration with my daughter Tamami.”

She got the idea when she was preparing a dress for her daughter for a play that took place at a vocational handicraft training center for physically challenged that her daughter Tamami attends.

That was five years ago. They prepared for the play just two simple dresses that were made entirely of recycled plastic bottles that were taped together, because they were in a rush to get the dresses ready. After the play, many people in the audience rushed back stage bombarding Chiyoko with questions like, “How did you make this?” and “How long did it take?” and “Would you teach me how to make one?”

Since then, Chiyoko and Tamami kept collecting plastic bottles from streets, parks, friends, and many other sources. They also collected plastic bowls that were used for Okinawa soba and other food at community festivals.

They made progress by trials and errors. They cannot melt the plastic items like specialists and reform them into whatever they want. All they can do is cut the plastic into small pieces, make holes and tie the pieces by thread. Chiyoko explains that, “It was hard for us to connect the pieces tight, and in the beginning the parts came apart easily.” But, she adds, “However, once we started we couldn’t stop. We thought over and over of better ways of connecting and coloring. These dresses are the product of our hearts!”

All in all they have made more than 30 dresses. One of them is all white and made of thousands of small coin-size polystyrol pieces. That is “the wedding dress!” Then there is a bright red, yellow and blue dress Chiyoko named “the Sun.” A nice creation colored in vivid patterns is called “Bingata” There is also a dress for men, and dresses for dance parties.

She has already begun making plans and arrangements for the show. 32 people will come up to the stage, all of them volunteers. The show’s stage decorations are also hand made craft by Chiyoko and Tamami.

After an article of the two appeared in a local newspaper, they got many calls from Kin town to Itoman City asking for tickets. Chiyoko stresses, “This is something everyone could do. We picked up the bottles from stores or streets, and piled up advertising pamphlets instead of throwing them away.” These are treasures for them to make their dreams come true.

Chiyoko has another dream. “We would like to do something that the training center cannot do. We’re planning to make more dresses and rent them for free for charity programs at other places where they can use them in plays or fashion shows. It could also be a way of fundraising for these vocational centers in Okinawa,” she says.

Chiyoko says, “This may seem strange, as I am already 63 year old. I finished my designer school when I was much younger. But now I feel that I’m fulfilling my dream with my daughter.”

For more info; call at Tomishiro Central Community Center at 098-850-3280

Tickets to the fashion show are ¥1,000 in advance or ¥1,300 at the door.

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