Unique creations

Some of Tin Can Models' hot air balloons, handbags and vehicles. Image: Alex Rivers

It has just been a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, and on Saturday (4 May), I attended the Sweeps Festival in Rochester, Kent, which is an annual celebration dating back some 300 years.

In Victorian England, May Day was the only day of the year that chimney sweeps (often young boys) could take a day off of their gruelling work and enjoy a procession through the streets of Rochester.

With the passing of the Climbing Boys Act in 1868 making it illegal to employ young boys to clean inside chimneys, the tradition gradually waned. Celebrations in Rochester stopped in the early 1900s but were revived again in the 1980s.

Now, thousands of people travel to Rochester every year to watch Morris dancing and parades, hear bands perform live, and enjoy food and drink from local suppliers. There is also a market where visitors can buy gifts, and this is where I encountered Tin Can Models.

The company’s shop has been going since 1998 and offers models of vehicles, hot air balloons, hats and bags, all made out of used beverage cans such as Pepsi, Schwepps Lemonade and Heineken. The makers of the models are based in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (coincidentally the location of this year’s Asia CanTech) and the owners of Tin Can Models, Rene and Karen, support original craftsman, Huu Haan, and his family through their employment.

The products are some of the most unique I’ve ever seen, and I was particularly drawn to the hot air balloons. It was great to see how many other people beside myself were also attracted to the stand and marvelling at the upcycled creations. It made me appreciate cans in a whole new light; I knew they were versatile, but this broadened that statement further.

Tin Can Models tour the UK throughout the year at various festivals, but also have an Etsy store for those interested to browse and shop online. It could be well worth taking a look and considering buying that can lover in your life a one-of-a-kind gift (or treating yourself)…

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