Blooming new


POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The invitations arrived in bottles; the centerpieces bloomed out of bottles. And the concept of recycling and re-purposing is, well, no longer bottled up.





        » Benefit event: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

        » Place: La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls

        » Tickets: $275

        » Call: 922-2744 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“;The girls are finding new ways to look at the world,”; art instructor Raina Grigg said of her students at La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls. “;They are looking at garbage differently.”;

Indeed, trash has become treasure for HOOPLA, the school's annual fundraiser.

Each invitation went out inside a crushed plastic bottle — a “;message in a bottle”; that wasn't an SOS or love note, but a save-the-date card designed to set the “;Upcycled and Fresh”; theme.

Plastic bottles also became part of the night's decor. The students spent hours in art class transforming bottles into flowers and foliage, using acrylic paint and a blowtorch.

“;It takes about three or four bottles to make one flower,”; Grigg said, then 10 to 15 flowers to make a bouquet for each table centerpiece. “;When the girls use the torch, it's almost like the plastic comes alive. It's like watching a sea anemone underwater.”;

“;All of the plastics bend differently, so it can be tricky,”; said ninth-grader Tiffany Gassman, Grigg's “;master torcher.”;

“;Cutting is the hardest part,”; said 12th-grader Amber Keola, who was trying to make flowers that resembled plumeria. “;If you mess up, it will turn out totally different than you imagined.”;

Twelfth-grader Ayaka Hong learned that a simple plastic bottle, rather than ending up in a landfill, could “;make something beautiful and different.”;

HOOPLA's goal is to raise money for financial aid, which supports more than 43 percent of students, said event chairwoman Laurie Callies, once a financial-aid recipient herself.

To reduce expenses, the event is being held on the school grounds and not in a fancy hotel. “;We also decided to create recycled table settings that will be up for bid,”; Callies said. “;Parents have blown us out of the water. The stuff that they came up with is so innovative.”;

Parent volunteer Michelle Mendoza embarked on a scavenger hunt across the island, seeking crystal pieces and green dinnerware from the 1920s and '30s for her table settings. “;It took me two months to find everything. I went to thrift and antique stores in Wahiawa, Pearl City and Kailua,”; she said.

Settings will be auctioned off, then cleaned and delivered to the successful bidders a week after the event.

Janis Sanchez, another volunteer, is creating two table settings: one with antique yellow and white dishes from the '30s and '40s, another with blue and white dinnerware from the '60s. It was a hunt to find the pieces, and some things proved impossible to buy. “;We had to make our own napkins for one table.”;

It was a challenge, but one they were up for, Mendoza said. “;It was fun and addicting.”;