Janaki Viswam is a 92-year-old grandmother, who lives in Chennai, India. She uses plastic waste and bags to make stylish bags and pouches.
Janaki Viswam, 92, is a passionate artisan from Chennai. Ramakrishnan R V (Raja), her 72-year-old son, described her as a creative person who has always been talented with her artwork.
Janaki creates attractive things for everyday use out of discarded plastic and garbage. Table mats, baggage tags, toaster covers, carry bags, and even little pockets for money and notes are all available. She does not do all of this for monetary gain, but rather to keep herself active.
Janaki is a fiercely independent woman who serves as an example to the family. Raja says, Janaki is 92 years old and they family should be caring for her. “But, she still wears the mantle and runs the house. Amma [Janaki’s] patience is simply remarkable,” he adds.
Janaki began thinking of ways to upcycle and recycle the current plastic coverings at home when Tamil Nadu implemented a plastic ban in 2019. Janaki says that’s when she started experimenting with other things. She says, she learnt by watching YouTube tutorials. While she struggles with using the phone and surfing YouTube, her daughter-in-law assists her in discovering relevant content.
Janaki’s first few products were baggage tags and coasters. She would wait for visitors so she could offer them these gifts.
Raja says what make Janaki so endearing is ability to give all that she produces.
Raja says, “Amma (Janaki) has no financial stake in making these items.”
He also says that what Janaki brings joy is when she shows all of her items and invites her guests to select anything they like.
Janaki’s credo for being mentally flexible is to remain occupied. It is also something she frequently advises the younger generation to do.
Janaki is an early riser, generally waking up about 4 a.m. Every day, she goes about her morning tasks and spends about two hours in prayer. “She recites so many slokas that I am not even aware of. She eagerly participates in the day’s culinary operations and insists on chopping the veggies. If she could, she’d make a full supper today,” Raja adds, complimenting her mother for her dedication.
Janaki will sometimes labor all day in an attempt to finish her assignment. Janaki, who likes watching television and reading Tamil publications, wonders, “If I promise someone that I would provide the product by a certain date, don’t I have to keep my word?”
This is how Janaki turns plastic bags into stylish pouches:
Step 1: The first Janaki does is to find a chair and sit on it comfortably.
Step 2: She then collects all of the plastic bags and sorts them by color.
Step 3: Janaki cuts the plastic bags into long strips that can be looped together to form a ball.
Step 4: Using crochet needles, she converts them into bags, pouches, and other things as desired.
Step 5: Janaki gives the product a finish touch with vintage buttons, ornamental pieces, and zippers.