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Bay quilter Angie makes beeswax wraps

Plastic is not fantastic, says Bay artist Angie Franke, who has decided it is time to offer an eco-friendly solution for this kitchen staple. The quilter, author and craft teacher is making and selling beeswax wraps made of 100% fine cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil and pine resin.

She uses the wraps instead of plastic containers or cling film to store fresh produce items like cheese, vegetables, fruits, nuts and even sandwiches.

“I’m trying to cut plastic out of my life and all that plastic wrap drives me crazy,” Franke said this week from her craft studio in Mount Pleasant, where she has a stash of fabrics, quilting materials and art supplies.

“These are reusable, hygienic and fun so clear your kitchen of plastic wrap, become environmentally responsible and do something good for your personal health,” she says of the brightly coloured squares tied with waxed string and a bright button.

Franke has been making the beeswax wraps for several months.

“I picked up on this last year on the internet through a friend in New Zealand, but even as a child, my father had an oilskin which he used to wrap food in when he went fishing.

“I wanted to make something similar for hiking, and I thought this would be a really nice thing to replace the whole plastics overuse.”

It took a while to get the mixture right but after tinkering in her art studio and kitchen, she came up with what she hopes will be a winning recipe. The beeswax allows the cheese to “breathe” so it does not sweat the way it does in plastic containers, while jojoba oil is a natural anti-microbial.

“The coconut oil added to the flexibility but did not last, and that’s when I came across the suggestion for pine resin. It makes all the difference in the tackiness, is food safe and the wrap doesn’t crumble or crack.”

She could not find pine resin in South Africa last year and asked a friend to bring her some back from the UK.

“Apparently it is used in ballet shoes to stop slipping and is fiercely expensive but we have pine trees here and they ooze resin, so I reckon you should be able to find it.”

And, although there are many recipes to be found on YouTube “it’s a messy business getting it right!”

Franke makes the wax cloths in pretty much any pattern or size you like. The fabric needs to be thin enough to be pliable but also durable enough to form a package around the cheese or sandwich.

“Quilting fabric is lovely. I’ve tried using shweshwe because I am passionate about it but it was too thick, so I am using African wax print now. It’s such fun to use and one unwraps a pretty gift every time you use your beeswax wrap – no cupboard is safe from a quilter!”

An experienced quilter, Franke handcrafted a giant aloe from fabric for last year’s national quilt festival Siyadala We Craft, held at Collegiate Girls’ High School.

She said the wraps were a hit ahead of the festive season.

“Last month, a lady asked on Facebook for them and it was going to cost her R500 for three. I replied to her that I could help her for R200 and suddenly everyone was wanting them for Christmas!”

Franke sells the wraps in different sizes, starting at R75 each, with small (25cm x 25cm) ideal for cheese and the larger wraps useful for covering salad bowls or a loaf of bread.

Depending on how frequently you use your beeswax wrap, it should last about six months.