Jewelry Art from recycled plastic bags

Jewelry Art from recycled plastic bags


my name is Wiebke Pandikow
I’m a German jewelry artist living and working on Lauttasaari Island in
Helsinki. I studied to be an artisan for goldsmithing and later a jewelry
designer in Lahti. As part of my studies I also decided to spend 10 months on
exchange in Japan where I learned the basics of Japanese lacquer work. Old
crafts and traditions, their artistry, diligence and fine motor skills
fascinate me. I am eager to learn these skills but I’m also curious and want to
adapt the same kind of methods to working with new or unusual materials. I
love to explore these materials deeply through a lot of trial and error until
I’m able to express myself artistically through them. I started to work with
plastic bags immediately after my graduation, so, around 2013-14. It took
about one and a half years for me to understand the kind of thin translucent
plastic bags one finds in grocery stores, well enough that I felt I had found in
them something new and before unseen. The processes I developed to work with
them are actually quite simple. Almost all of my pieces are made from plastic
string or sheet, both of which I make with the help of a flat iron. In the
accelerated video one can see how basic thin plastic bags are turned into
plastic strings and sheets. First I cut off the bottom of the bag,
fold them together and cut them into narrow strips. Usually I of course put
many bags on top of each other so I can cut a greater number of them at once. Now this kind of loop is twirled
together at one end and then fused into a string with a flat iron. Logically I don’t touch the plastic
directly with the flat iron, but always have a piece of baking sheet in between. When the one end is fused
I also twirl the rest of the loop together and then fuse that as well. Then the whole string is heated once more from the other side, so that it fuses completely and becomes round. The right temperature and pressure are very important and it took quite a long time
to find out what they are. For a sheet I only need to fold the bag,
but here finding the right temperature was harder. On my flat iron I always make
the plastic string on the highest temperature setting, but a sheet will
turn out full of holes if the temperature’s too high. A setting in
between silk and wool tends to work for me, but still I need to be much more
careful when fusing the sheet and have to do it much slower. It also needs a
higher pressure. So a technique that is basically quite
simple needs exactness and a good knowledge of the material to yield the
desired result. Water-themed pieces like the Seaweave
necklace shown at the very start and the Tideroot brooches are usually made only
from plastic string. To fix the plastic to the wood I usually just drill a hole
and melt the plastic into it. Of course if need be I also fix something in place
with glue. Then I start melting strings onto the piece side by side and shaping
them until I have the desired appearance. When working with the soldering iron I
continued to be very careful about the heat. In between 200 and 220 degrees
Celsius the plastic melts but doesn’t burn or smoke which means I don’t have
to continuously inhale possibly harmful gases. As for the Tideroots brooches they also
contain many other shapes than just strings, but most of these are also
easiest to create by using the basic plastic string I’ve made with the flat
iron. Herbarium pieces, plant-themed necklaces, are necklaces is full of small leaves reminiscent of different botanicals genera of plants. For these leaves I cut their basic shapes out of plastic sheet
first and then shape them with the soldering iron. The video shows how Topaeolum, Hedera
and Fallopia leaves are created. It becomes obvious that making these
pieces takes a lot of time. This video is also sped up and then still cut
drastically. The work is slow but it calms me and this almost a bit like
meditation. The motions are in my muscle memory and my hands perform these basic
procedures basically on their own, without me having to actively think
about it. Especially this part where I shape each
leaf into its final form, happens mostly subconsciously. I like being outside of
course, also looking at plants so the shape of their leaves is very familiar
to me, but in this case my hands kind of just
move and something comes into being while my mind can be in another place
entirely. I think many people who do handcrafts know this feeling, how sometimes
something is created almost without the maker being quite present. Only at the end of the process when the
leaves are assembled on a plastic net, which has been fixed to the piece of
wood beneath, I have to really concentrate and plan again. But even
there it tends to feel as if the piece grows by itself almost like a real plant. But why plastic bags? Without the ubiquitous plastic our
civilization wouldn’t be possible. There are moments when the use of plastics is
the best or even the only option. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
Especially plastic bags are an obvious symbol for mindless consumerism and a
throw-away society. This makes them so interesting for me to work with, to
create from them textures and structures that recall forms of natural world which
we have set ourselves apart from. It took thousands of years for oil to
form from dead organic material and it took more time and energy to produce
plastics from oil. In contrast, a single plastic bag is, in
the worst case, often used only for minutes. It fascinates me to give these
used plastic bags a new life, a new form that is reminiscent of those organisms
without which the plastic itself wouldn’t exist in the first place. When I create these pieces, I use
plastics as a valuable material, just as and the tradition of craftsmanship one
might use wood, fabric, glass or precious metals and others. It took a long time
for me to get to know this material and I found positive things about it. It
takes practically any shape and is quite durable and being used, though I’m not
yet able to tell how well it will keep over time. Still, I really don’t like plastic bags,
but since we already have so many of them I think it would be nice to at
least recycle them and all other plastics more effectively and maybe in
the future make do without this kind of problem plastics. I’m of course aware that I’m unable to
do much about the massive amounts of plastic waste in this world with these
pieces, but maybe I can inspire some thought. Maybe I can have a little influence on
the perspective people usually tend to have of plastic bags as worthless ugly
dangerous waste. This they are of course, but then our own
behavior has a lot to do with this. We are searching for new solutions but
it seems as if we still don’t quite understand what impact for example the
Great Pacific Garbage Patch will have in the future. If a crystal grows in an
oversaturated liquid, what will grow in a sea oversaturated with plastic? What if
some organisms would start to use plastics the same way corals use calcium
carbonate. Quite fantastic thoughts maybe, and these only from the positive end of
the spectrum. In any case to us plastics are
commonplace, invaluable yet insignificant. For me they bear the
possibility of beauty

85 thoughts on “Jewelry Art from recycled plastic bags

  1. Thank you for sharing. Their is something about you that puts me in aww. Your work is beautiful. Great Ideas, amazing beauty made from garbage. Thank you Tammi

  2. Wow, so delicate and beautiful! I enjoy creating things from waste as well and like the things you say 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. Absolutely stunning, I love working with experimental materials, and have used plastic bags in other applications, but never thought to use it for such refined and detailed work. Congratulations on such a truly unique accomplishment!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your method, beautiful work and wisdom. Really well done video. I look forward to seeing more of your art.

  5. Beautiful intricate work! I love your creations and thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to you. Thanks for sharing this on You Tube! Cheers, Ginny :o)

  6. Amazing and beautiful, I'm always amazed at other artists work. This was inspired and unusual. I use old phone books and newspaper grocery ads for this. Thanks a lot for the video. Blessings

  7. Wow!, Beautiful,, Art. You truly are an Amazing Woman and Artists. I to love recycle material. Thank you for sharing. New Subbie. Rosebud 🥀

  8. Hello Wiebke, my recycled projects from plastic bags are beautiful plastic beads wrapped in either craft wire or lace material, or both I also make paper flowers and incorporate pieces of plastic into my flowers then paint they come out Amazingly Beautiful.

  9. These are truly stunning! Everyone you made has a story they tell but just looking at them I wish I could have one 😂 lol truly incredible!

  10. Fantastisch was du aus Plastiktüten so machts. Die Ketten sehen irre aus vor allen in Verbindung mit Naturmaterial. Ganz dicker Daumen hoch

  11. Your work is a great inspiration to artist and ecowarriors…you have moved me of your thoughts…Thank you so much!

  12. I love your art, patience, creativity and dedication. I hope you are recognized for creating so much magic. Thanks for sharing !

  13. Beautiful. Truly inspirational work and words. Never enjoyed a video more…quite so well done. Peace and blessings.

  14. It's just fantastic and so AMAZING how GOD created each and one of us so UNIQUE and so DIFFERENT with GOD GIVEN TALENTS such as this! All I can say is just plain and simple ……….. WOW! I am in AWE first time seeing this wonderful creations one person could create out of waste plastic…………… Truly AMAZING and FANTASTIC WORK OF ART! If I were you Madam, I would want to have an EXHIBIT for this kind, so that people will be aware of not throwing those reusable plastic bags and think of lots of ways on how to re-use them. Carry On Madam. Hats Off to all your creations(",)(,")

  15. Wow, stunning delicate absolutely beautiful work. I hate waste & always look at ways to use items that would normally end up in a bin going to landfill or off to some far off land to be reused. Thank you for sharing

  16. Your work is amazing! It looks so delicate and fragile,and then we find out what it's made from. Just wonderful!

  17. Such a calming and beautiful video. Your voice and your lovely spirit soothe me. Stunning and elegant- this video.

  18. Amazing and rewRding work . thanks for this video. I am always looking at things thrown away thinking somewhere there is someone who can make this into wonderful Art. I will not look at plastic bags the same again.

  19. Absolutely stunning! For some reason, I felt very emotional and tearful watching this–maybe because the artist has changed my perspective so profoundly of what has become a despised, polluting material by creating these objects of decoration and beauty so elegant and breathtaking. Such originality is very inspiring for me as a furniture designer, poet, photographer and book artist… And the video presented with such clarity of explanation and quality, if you are not already teaching your craft Wiebke, then I am sure you would make a very effective and inspiring teacher.

  20. My 11 years old dauther wants to make jewels from recycling materials. She expressed (in 11 years old words) quite the same concerns and thoughts than you, its almost eerie… She wants to make the world better, one plastic bottle at the time. She was mesmerized by this video. Its working, you inspire, just keep going!

  21. Thank you Wiebke for making this video, and especially for making it in English. Your artwork is beautiful and my favorites are the ones with all the small leaves. I imagined them incorporated on a designer wedding gown curving gracefully to enhance the beauty of the bride.
    I think you are making a good mark on this world.

  22. Excellent ,j'utilise moi aussi les matières plastiques dans mon travail artistique, tout à fait différemment.

  23. This technique is so interesting & your jewelry is stunning! Thank you so very much for sharing & explaining.

  24. I am at 8:52 min. & I feel so very privileged to be able to watch you create. You say it's like therapy to you, well I feel like it's almost the same for me just to watch & listen to you. Once again, I am truly thankful for to you for sharing. Peace & happiness to you.

  25. Absolutely gorgeous and your talents are so unbelievable……your words regarding plastic is absolutely correct with such wasteful our world is. I am also a very crafty person and you have given me inspiration to see plastic in another way for sure. Your work and images are simply gorgeous and would love to know where you sell your art? Thank you for sharing. God Bless

  26. Beautiful, and imaginative. And I love that you repurpose waste materials into something so lovely and reminiscent of natural forms; thoughtful. Thank you for sharing!

    The feeling of a work growing by itself after studying its process for a long time is familiar — that's what I consider to be "zen"; I'm not conscious of it (anymore). It's a strange feeling of not being present as a conscious force, but being present as something that is absorbed by the work, and absorbs it in turn. Hard to put into words.

  27. Stunning work I adore every single piece, it is great to find an Art that not only bring's you joy in it's creation but also to find a calmness in which to escape sometimes. Loved your video and subbed Hugs Dede xxxx

  28. I am in total awe of your workmanship, patience, talent and "world-vision". Thank you for sharing your work with all of us. Your fingers get so close to the end of the soldering iron..I'm wondering how you keep your fingers from blistering?

  29. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and the results of your experimentation🌸💜Beautiful work!

  30. Stunning art.. beautiful photos, also beautiful for an exhibition, but I don't really see myself walking around with branches hanging from my neck…I mean , in terms of practicality…

  31. Creating something beautiful from one of the ugliest materials, celebrating nature through the use of plastic waste, hand crafting with something thought of as only for machines to work with, putting a new beginning at what's the end of the material's intended life, making a unique piece that carries it's mass produced origin in its identity.
    I'm amazed at how contradictory it all is, and how well it works. It's inspiring and moving.

  32. Echt super! Vielen Dank das Du so toll alles offen und ohne Zurückhaltung erklärst. Ganz starke Arbeit. Ich wahr sehr gerührt xxx

  33. so beautiful omg! I've been looking for a way to recycle my plastic bags because I want to make sure the carbon footprint I leave behind is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your art and your thoughts. I am truly amazed and also inspired.

  34. congrats. you have truly elevated the plastic bag into real art. Stunning work. thanks for sharing. shows what can be done by a true artist. Bravo

  35. Incredibly inspirational video… Beautiful! The best video I have seen about creating imaginative wonderful art from horrible plastic bags.

  36. I am so impressive your work, i also think about using plastic bag for my artwork so this video help me in many ways! Thanks a lot:)

  37. Thank you so much for your beautiful work and thoughts. You and your work are truly inspiring. (I too love to make jewellery from discarded plastic (amongst other things) – )

  38. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in this beautiful video and inspiration. May you be blessed and grow in knowledge in your quest.

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