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Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APT)
- A creative way to recycle paper and card!
Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APbT or APT) is a cost-effective way to produce personally designed furniture or other objects for use and creativity. Materials are recycled: waste paper, thin card and corrugated cardboard boxes. Flour is used to make the paste and varnish or waterproof paint is helpful to seal the completed items. All that is needed in the way of tools are a kettle or pan to boil water, a suitable receptacle to make the paste, knives and a smooth stick. Once the techniques are mastered endless variations on equipment can be made and a special workshop is not necessary. It is quite easy to make APT items in the home, outside in dry countries or in any community room.
The techniques were pioneered by Bevill Packer and Zimbabwians (see The History of APT). Some papier machee techniques are similar, but in APT layers of corrugated cardboard and rolls of thin card are used. Joints are tightly strapped with layered strips of paper and no tucks. Furniture is made, using engineering principles in the design and construction, so that weak can become strong. The furniture, properly made, certainly is strong. Some armchairs have been in existence and in daily use for over 10 years. Obviously, being paper-based, the items should be kept inside.
The potential for creativity with individualized designs is a great bonus. All types of furniture and shelf units can be designed and made. Chairs can be easily designed to look like animals, cars or other interesting shapes for children. All items can be finished with a layer of recycled brown envelopes or a collage of differently coloured torn papers. It is possible to produce wonderful effects. Alternatively they can be decorated with ordinary gloss paints or home-made earth, milk or egg paints and finally varnished. Useful furniture, fantastic toys, beautiful artistic items for the home have been made. Teachers and children have made tables and even desks for school and the staff at Sour Community Disability Programme have even made a stand for their photocopy machine (see APT in South Lebanon).
Over the years the availability, low cost and versatility of APT has benefited people with disabilities. Assistive furniture items can be made individually - good fitting and positioning tailored for each person. When an item such as a standing frame is half-made the person needing it can try it out and everyone can see and discuss the need for alterations. Even small angles can be altered relatively easily making it perfect for the best fit. People Potential runs courses which can include; measuring and designing according to different preferences and needs because of an impairment (see APT courses and workshops).
Have you tried APT? Do Email us and share your experiences, ideas, successes and failures (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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