8 incredible examples of plastic bottle art and installation

Illuminated fish made from plastic bottles in Rio

The concept of plastic bottle art initially evoked flashbacks of Blue Peter’s Here’s one I made earlier. It’s hard to believe that something as ubiquitous as a used plastic bottle could ever be turned into a thing of beauty.

There has been recent media attention on the future of how we recycle plastic bottles and more and more clothing brands are using recycled plastic bottle fabrics in their collections – even reaching the catwalk at London Fashion Week this month.

So what else can be done to prevent the plastic bottle from entering landfills and oceans? From jewellery to public installations, here are some of the finest upcycled plastic bottle creations around.

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Plastic bottle art and jewellery

Gülnur Özdağlar plasic bottle art

It’s impossible not to marvel at these curious objects by Gülnur Özdağlar, and hard to believe they began their lives as plastic bottles. The Turkish architect who also works in graphic design, photography and digital art has been producing jewellery and home decorations from recycled PET plastic bottles since 2008.  Through heating, melting, cutting and drilling, she reshapes the bottles to create beautiful organic forms.

Plastic bottle art by Gülnur Özdağlar

Her aim is “to create objects from things we have discarded that are so beautiful we want to wear or exhibit them,” therefore underlining the importance of recycling. The name given to her collection is Tertium Non Data which is Latin for ‘the third is not given.’  This is an alchemic term that refers to the process of combining two disparate elements to create a new, third element.

Gülnur Özdağlar art made from plastic bottles

As well as bowls and jewellery, Gülnur creates plastic ‘petals’ which she uses to make pendant lampshades.


Jewellery design made from plastic bottles by Gülnur Özdağlar

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Plastic bottle artefacts

Vessel made from plastic bottles by Shari Mendelson

These curious pieces by Shari Mendelson resemble something you’d ordinarily see in an archeological museum. They are in fact created from found discarded plastic juice, soda and water bottles. With hours spent making studies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn artist takes her inspiration from historical ceramic, glass and metal artefacts. Pictured above, Animal with Vessel in Net (2017). Photo by Polite Photographic

Camels made from plastic bottles by Shari Mendelson

2 Camels (2013) plastic from discarded bottles, hot glue, acrylic polymer, Magic Sculpt, wood

Sculpting with pieces of plastic, she binds the forms together with a combination of hot glue, acrylic polymer, resin or an epoxy clay called Magic Sculpt. Some of her sculptures and vessels made from plastic bottles have also been mould-blown or cast in glass. Exploring issues of history, culture and value, her works question the great civilisations that have risen and fallen. It can take millennia for plastics to biodegrade, which begs the question, will the legacy of our time simply be a mountain of trash?

Hippo made from plastic bottles by Shari Mendelson

After William (2012) plastic from discarded bottles, hot glue, tea bags, acrylic polymer, paint, wire

Plastic bottle art by Shari Mendelson

Four Vessels with Exoskeleton – Pink and Gold (2017) made from Repurposed plastic, hot glue, resin, acrylic polymer, paint, found metal, mica. Photo by Polite Photographic

Female dog vessel made from plastic bottles by Shari Mendelson

Female Dog Vessel (2012) plastic from discarded bottles, hot glue, Magic Sculpt, acrylic polymer, tea bags, thread

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Plastic bottle canopy

Canopy made from plastic bottles

A beautiful parking canopy might seem like an oxymoron, but this temporary installation by designer Garth Britzman is just that, all the more so having been made from recycled plastic bottles. He made use of the flower like shape at the base of the bottle by partially filling them with coloured liquid.

Detail of plastic bottle art by Garth Britzman

Parking canopy made from plastic bottles

Detail of plastic bottles filled with coloured liquid

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Plastic bottle beach installation

Giant fish sculpture made from plastic bottles

In 2012, this incredible giant fish sculpture made of plastic bottles formed part of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.  In was situated on on Botafogo beach, lit from the inside by night, creating a beautiful display. Images via Flickr 

Detail of plastic bottle art

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Plastic bottle islands

Plastic Island installation by Luz Interruptus

For 2016’s Lumiere London festival, Spanish collective Luz Interruptus created two glowing islands of plastic bottles in the fountains of Trafalgar Square. Referred to as Plastic Island it highlights the alarming reality of the ‘eighth continent’ that is taking over large areas of the North Pacific Ocean and is comprised of plastic and garbage, also known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The installation featured thousands of plastic bottles, including those donated by the general public. Photos by Lola Martínez.

Plastic bottle art at Lumiere London 2016

Light installation by Luz Interruptus Trafalgar Square London

Plastic bottle art by Luz Interruptus

See more by Luz Interruptus here and here.

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Plastic bottle fish

Fish made from plastic bottles by Veronika Richterová

This piece is called Leaping grey mullets (2016) by Czech artist Veronika Richterová, and highlights the alarming statistic that if plastic pollution isn’t addressed, our oceans will be filled with more plastic than fish by 2050. 

Veronika’s introduction to plastic bottles in 2004 began initially as a visual experiment, but soon became an obsession. Her way of working with the medium has been evolving ever since and she describes her work as ‘PET art’. See more amazing examples of Veronika’s work in this previous post. Photo by Michal Cihlář.

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Plastic bottle hemisphere

Large dome installation created from plastic bottles

Rising Moon is a dome structure made from 7,000 recycled plastic bottles. The 2013 project appeared in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. It was designed by Daydreamers Design and was organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and mobile service provider One2Free.

The dome was approximately 10 metres in height and 20 metres in diameter and made from recyclable or reusable materials, including plastic bottles, steel frames, cable wires and energy-saving LED light bulbs. The installation sits on a large pond, creating a reflection that lends to an ethereal moon-like appearance.

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Plastic bottle world

Plastic bottle art by Sarah Turner for Sodastream

British designer Sarah Turner has been involved in numerous projects creating lighting products and installations from plastic bottles. SodaStream used one of her lights in their campaign with British supermodel Erin O’Connor, which promotes their message of ‘A World Without Bottles.’  Here, they recreated the iconic pose of the Greek god Atlas, highlighting the burden of the world’s plastic bottle waste.

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Author: Antonia Edwards

Antonia is the founding editor of Upcyclist. Based in the UK, she is the author of two books: 'Upcyclist: Reclaimed and Remade Furniture, Lighting and Interiors' (Prestel 2015) and 'Renovate Innovate: Reclaimed and Upcycled Homes' (Prestel 2017).