Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. From 1963-1973, Laos became an unwitting pawn during the Second Indochinese War. During this time, the US Air Force dropped a planeload of cluster bombs every eight minutes for nine consecutive years. Right after the war, villagers began gathering aluminum from exploded bombs and made it into spoons. The villagers were taught this skill by a family that relocated to Ban Naphia from Houaphan Province, further north. In the early days, five families produced the recycled bomb spoons. Today, there are approximately 13 families producing more than 150,000 spoons per year from war and non-war scrap aluminum. Production has expanded to include bracelets, earrings, and pendants.
We work with artisans in Ban Naphia located in the Xieng Khuang Province who source aluminum from airplane parts and bombs dropped throughout Laos during the Secret War (Vietnam War) in the 1960s. The community which produces the recycled bomb products have all been trained by Helvetas, a Swiss NGO, on how to handle the metals safely, including smelting and cleaning the aluminum before use.
It is important to note that of all the bombs dropped in Laos, 30% did not explode. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to pose a significant threat to the safety of villagers in rural Lao. In their search for scrap metal, many villagers encounter UXO and suffer catastrophic injuries. The generous spirit and ingenuity of Lao artisans is evident in our collection of recycled bomb products. War and persistent air raids in the 1960s left the countryside littered with bomb and metal shrapnel. The remnants of this legacy have been transformed into emblems of peace.