In his seminal song “Margaritaville,” Jimmy Buffett famously laments, “Blew out my flip-flop. Stepped on a pop-top.”
Of course, pop-top soda cans have long gone the way of pogs – bottle caps for passion-orange-guava juice or milk (originally from Haleakala Dairy) and a popular preoccupation for school kids in the 1990s. They exist only in memory or eclectic collections.
In the place of pop-tops today are tabs that stay on the can. The tabs can be easily removed and now hold their own brand of fascination achieving a second life of sorts as shiny, durable baubles for fashion accessories.
That is the specialty of Maui’s Keep’n TABS, the creator Heather Pietras, a former caseworker in social services.
“On a daily basis, I heard many people’s stories of personal trauma, abuse, and injustice, and emotionally I would take that home with me and that became very overwhelming,” she recalls. “I was looking for a constructive outlet, one that would help me to decompress as well as be creative and self-expressive.”
She remembered her childhood fondness for crocheting and decided to revisit that tranquil pastime.
“Crocheting became a form of quieting my mind,” says Heather, “and through meditation I quickly learned that I thoroughly enjoyed making beautiful wearable art while also being productive and environmentally conscious.”
Using recycled aluminum tabs that she collects herself or from friends and neighbors – and even from kind strangers who have donated bags of tabs at craft fairs, Heather pieces them together with colorful nylon into a unique, eco-friendly line of handbags, clutches, mini-purses, cell phone wallets, belts, earrings, bracelets, key chains, and pet collars. The list goes on. This wearable art is part of a movement known as “upcycling” – converting discarded materials into something of value and beauty.
A handbag alone can require more than 1,100 tabs to crochet and typically takes up to 12 to 16 hours to complete, she estimates. Each piece is delicately handcrafted on Maui and is an environmentally friendly adornment to treasure for a lifetime.
“It has been very gratifying to have such a sense of accomplishment once I see a finished product,” says Heather. She hopes her customers share in that same satisfaction. “Sporting your own customized can tab handbag or accessory from my “Keep’n TABS” collection, you will not only be making a fashionable statement while you stand out in the crowd, but every piece will accent any outfit you have all year long.”
She happily takes custom orders that may incorporate favorite colors, school colors, sports team colors, or holiday themes. You can reach Heather at email@example.com for more information or her Etsy site: KeepnTabsShop.