Artists are making beautiful crafts from Venezuela’s devalued currency

On the streets of Colombia, several artists have decided to craft beautiful items from Venezuela’s colourful bank notes that, due to the collapse of the economy, are now worth virtually nothing.

Travel News - Artists Turn Useless Venezuelan Currency Into Handicrafts
Luis Orlando's handicrafts. Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty

Several artists have set up stalls in the historic area of downtown Bogotá selling a variety of crafts and artwork using the older Venezuelan bolívars (also known as bolívar fuerte). These notes have recently gone out of circulation as the government replaced them with bolívar soberano in an effort to tackle hyperinflation.

Travel News - Artists Turn Useless Venezuelan Currency Into Handicrafts
Ernesto Rojas (R), a 47-year-old Venezuelan university professor and Kristian Vasquez (L), a 27-year-old Venezuelan communication student, paint on Bolivares Fuertes banknotes. Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty

Many of the artists have emigrated to Colombia from Venezuela in an effort to escape the economic crisis. Among them are Ernesto Rojas, a university professor who now paints images on the bills, and Luis Orlando Ortega, a designer who folds the notes into shapes like swans, baskets or even purses.

One piece of money art could bring a seller up to US$20 in Bogotá while in neighbouring Venezuela, pictures went viral last year of the streets lined with old notes after the changeover in currency. Sellers are also getting in on the action on Etsy, with one artist making replicas of the Iron Throne from the banknotes.

Travel News - Artists Turn Useless Venezuelan Currency Into Handicrafts
Wallets and bags made with p;d Venezuelan currency. Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty

A report released by the International Monetary Fund last month predicted a further ten million percent inflation rate for Venezuela. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have issued a travel warning against all but essential travel to the country in the wake of continued civil unrest and instability.