On Friday, December 11, 2020, a group of Young Reporters for the Environment students at St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, Cospicua launched a litter-less project campaign in making Christmas cribs. Upon invitation from their teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent offered a power-point presentation to their classmates at school about the process of making Christmas cribs using only recycled material.
Student Isaac Zerafa said; “I have learnt the technique of making a Christmas crib from my family and it is not so difficult to make. The materials required are few. I only make use of recycled material and it takes me a few days to complete the work.”
YRE students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent explained that a Christmas crib can easily be constructed with Papier Mache’. To adopt this technique, newspapers are dipped and soaked in glue and then left to dry. When dry, the papier mache’ gets hard and can be painted quite easily. To make the glue, one needs to pour half a litre of water in a bucket and add to flour to it while constantly stirring with a wooden stick. One keeps adding flour to water until the mixture becomes creamy but not so thick. Finally, a cup of carpenter’s white glue is added to the mixture. Actually water and flour is good enough for the mixture but adding the carpenter’s white glue makes it stronger and will keep insects away from the crib when kept in storage.
Then one dips and soaks the newspaper strips in the mixture and while still wet, the excess glue is removed. Once put on a cardboard base and frame, the newspapers strips are twisted and wrinkled to form the cave; and the ground can be covered with additional strips to make it uneven like rocks. Additional strips will make the big cave and other minor caves on each side. At this stage one can make use of his imagination to make the Christmas crib very original.
Another easy technique to make Christmas cribs is by using polyurethane foam or ‘jablo’. One can easily find jablo from package material used for home appliances and other goods and then patiently start cutting the jablo into small cubes using a sharp knife or blade, being careful with the handling of the knife. Once the jablo cubes are ready, one can use imagination to create a crib on a wooden base. Glue is needed once again to stick the jablo cubes together and pieces of net cloth soaked in glue can be used to form the green moss of the cave.
When the papier mache’ or jablo crib is dried and hardened one can then start the painting process. To make the paint, pour two tablespoons of carpenter’s glue into a small container and add to it four tablespoons of water while stirring. Then add two tablespoons of coloured powder, preferably using yellow pigment, and the paint mixture should be a bit thick, enough to cover the papier mache’ or jablo crib. Use the paint to cover the whole project material and add to it some white chalk powder if necessary. Then allow the material to dry for a couple of hours. Meanwhile prepare some brown and green paint using the same adopted technique for the yellow colour. When the yellow coat is nearly dry, start painting the crevasses with brown colour and dab some green colour around the brown to make it look like rocky moss. Painting the proper colours to make the whole project look like a natural cave requires skill and imagination too.
Then when everything has completely dried out, one can apply a semi-matte coat of clear varnish to bring out the colours and make it more vivid. When it comes to the painting process of a jablo crib one can make use of acrylic paint instead which makes it easier to cover.
Teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, who coordinated this Litter-less Campaign school project said: “Our students were very eager to present this project as it was an opportunity for them to share their creativity and make other students aware of the need to be more environment-friendly in our decisions”.
Thanks to this litter-less school project campaign other students can make their own Christmas crib adopting the three R’s – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE – which all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away and learn to conserve natural resources and energy.
This project aims to reach three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, and Quality Education.