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 an increasing number of 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.
Plastic bottle art and jewellery
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 decor from recycled PET plastic bottles since 2008. Through heating, melting, cutting and drilling, she reshapes the bottles to create beautiful organic forms.
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 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.
As well as bowls and jewellery, Gülnur creates plastic ‘petals’ which she uses to make pendant lampshades.
Plastic bottle artefacts
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
Pictured above – After William (2012) plastic from discarded bottles, hot glue, tea bags, acrylic polymer, paint, wire
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?
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
Plastic bottle canopy
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.
Plastic bottle beach installation
In 2012, a colossal example of recycled art took the form of a giant fish sculpture. It formed part of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil. Made from plastic bottles, the sculpture was situated on Botafogo beach and lit from the inside by night, creating a beautiful display. Images via Flickr
Plastic bottle islands
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 fish
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.
Plastic bottle tapestry
Kollektivemind* are an Athens based design team specialising in architectural research and implementation. Projects such as Argallios meaning ‘loom’ explore the potential of reuse and upcycling. Argallios took place at a primary school on the island of Crete and made use of over 2100 plastic bottles which were painted and arranged to replicate a traditional pattern found on a Cretan textile.
Plastic bottle hemisphere
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.
Plastic bottle world
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.