“Go for it: build a raft, a musical instrument, a beamer out of cardboard!”

by Jenny Friedrich-Freksa

Make it yourself (Issue IV/2021)


Wenn mal keine Vase zur Hand ist, geht's auch mit einem Kleiderbügel. Foto: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

Everyone has an object that they are particularly fond of - an animal carved out of wood by their grandfather, a T-shirt bought in Los Angeles, or maybe just a stone picked up on a lucky day. These objects hold deep meaning for us. The curator and biotechnologist Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, who will direct the House of World Cultures in Berlin as of 2023, dubs these items tools. "People need tools that take care of them, that provide for them, but also tools with which they can preserve their history and stories," he says. In this issue, we present ten objects from around the world that you can can make for yourself. Handmade items span a broad spectrum, from exquisite handicraft to wonky hand-made cereal bowls, but they are often more important to us than their shop-bought counterparts. 

Working with our hands, all that sawing, sewing, welding, weaving, bending, breaking, cutting, makes us understand how things are made. It shows us what materials feel like. And introduces us to the ingenious techniques people have evolved over centuries and millennia to make tools out of materials. In this magazine we will introduce some objects which are made according to ancient cultural techniques, including a wooden hut built by the Sami people in Scandinavia, a bag made of flax, traditionally woven by Māori in New Zealand, or a bamboo raft from China that these days only tourists use. We also feature contemporary objects: a recycled stool from Lebanon, constructed from a washing machine drum, or a tear gas mask hand made out of a plastic bottle by demonstrators in Venezuela after instructions were shared on the internet.

In this magazine, design experts have their say and so do people who simply enjoy making things, such as Holly Cypret and Debbie Barberee, who crochet sleeping mats out of plastic bags for homeless people in Florida. It is this raw sense of joy you get from creating things that we want to pass onto you in this issue. So go for it: build a raft, a musical instrument, a beamer out of cardboard! You can do it!

Translated by Jess Smee

similar articles

Make it yourself (What's different elsewhere)

A house on the move

by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

About a special parade in the Philippines.


Make it yourself (A phone call with ...)

A phone call with a historian

A phone call with ... Niall Ferguson

Do people learn lessons from the past?


Make it yourself (Topic: Make it yourself!)

Statutory Eradication

by Gundula Haage

Louise Erdrich talks about resistance by indigenous peoples in 1950s America.


Make it yourself (Topic: Make it yourself!)

A solar oven

by Victoria Aguilera Velazco

Cooking and baking with solar energy: An oven that needs neither electricity nor fuel.


Make it yourself (Books)

The new reality

by Andri Snær Magnason

Can the climate crisis still be halted? Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, authors of the Paris Agreement, are determined to keep looking forward.


Make it yourself (I think that ...)

I think that my life is worth as much as every other

commented by Andy Marso

I think that the lives of people with disabilities are still not valued as much as they should be. Here in the United States, news of the daily COVID death toll...