Australian artist, Mark Vaarwerk, reuses plastic bags and other throw away domestic plastic containers such as shampoo bottles, to create beautiful jewel-like brooches and rings. Of course this is not going to single handedly solve the worlds plastic bag problem, nor are we saying it is totally sustainable jewelery, (gold is also used), but this jewellery does give rise to alternative and thoughtful uses for discarded plastics.The recent backlash against plastic shopping bags in Australia has been written about here before, there are a few alternatives that have been trialled such as the potato starch bag, reusable woven bags and banning plastic bags altogether, but using plastic bags persists, which leaves the dilemma of what to do with them.
Image: Finger rings, plastic shopping bags fused with sterling silver and 18 carat gold.
In an article on Craft Australia's website Mark's recycled plastics are discussed along with other artists who make use of this versatile and accessible product - that of recycled plastic. Mark's process is described here better than on his own website .
The bags are cut into ribbons and wrapped around an inner core of silver, the plastic and silver is fused into a log shape and cut like candy into flat slivers roughly half a centimeter thick. ... The different colours of the plastic when heated intensify unexpectedly ... and [along with] the uncontrolled process of melting ... results [in] imperfect, organic egg-like shapes ... this has the effect of gently steering the association of the jewellery away from mass-cut perfectionism back to the hand-formed and organic.
Image: Brooch, plastic bags and sterling silver