Plastic Experiments

A part of One Island’s goal as educators is to first educate ourselves, and to have cutting-edge techniques and information to pass along to our students. As pioneers in environmental artwork, there are no paths before us to take when embarking on a project. There are no limits as to how far plastic can be taken, and we are striving to find every obscure and outrageous way to manipulate it. Here are some samples of our successful and oftentimes unsuccessful advances with plastic. Got any good ideas?

Flower Prototype #2: This flower is very different from the first that we made. The petals are   made from the sides of laundry detergent bottles (varied sizes) and they have been heat gunned to manipulate them. In the center of the flower right now is a yogurt container which we will be adding to later.

 Plastic Tubing: You can achieve this effect with only two bottles (any type- in this picture we used milk jugs). Cut the bottles open on one side and use the heat gun to flatten them. Drill a small hole on each of the two sides that you wish to connect, and use a zip tie to attach them.

artwork made from recycled artwork experimentsartwork made from recycled artwork experiments 2

When any of us at One Island experiment with a new technique, it is always with a bigger plan in mind. The projects we take on require inventiveness, creativity, problem-solving, and oftentimes hundreds of hours of work- so we begin by taking baby steps. Many of the recent experiments we’ve done have been part of the process of making plastic architecture. Here are some sketches of our plastic housing, so you can see where our experiments are going. Enjoy!
housing blueprint #2plastic housing shingle blueprint #1housing blueprint #1Plastic Material: Requiring only 4 plastic bags, an iron, and newsprint, you can create sewable material. Start by turning the iron on high; next layer newsprint, all of the flattened out plastic bags, then newsprint again. Evenly iron the bags once on each side to create a durable, sewable material. This is the next step in our creation of plastic housing.

 Attempt at Plastic Weaving #3: This was the most successful woven textile we’ve created to date! Using our makeshift PET shredder, we used strips of 2lt bottles and wove them together on a tabletop, then stapled them together around the outside edges.

Shingling Effect: This effect is quite simple to achieve. You simply cut pieces of plastic into pieces and layer them over one another. This is a technique that we will be experimenting with more when trying to build plastic architechure.
 Shrink-Wrapping Over an Armature: Using the shrink wrapping technique (seen below), create an armature (can be anything- ours is a water bottle cut in half) and cover it in at least 4 layers of bags.

Double-Bottle Technique: This is a very unique method that gives a great effect. It requires a minimum of 2 bottles, preferably 1 clear and 1 colored. Start by taking the lid off of the colored bottle and heat gun it until you get your desired shape. Then cut the clear bottle open down the side and insert the colored bottle inside of it. After heat-gunning the second bottle, you should recieve this effect!
 Flower Prototype #2: Using a bottle as a base, we used flower effect (seen below) with a colorful assortment of bags to create a unique look. This was semi-effective – we got the bags and caps to look exactly how they should, but as a flower, it isn’t completely visually pleasing. We will experiment more with this technique and find a way to improve it for the Octopus’s Garden.

Flower Prototype #1: One Island will be teaching a 6-day plastic workshop at Hillcrest Intermediate School in May. This workshop consists of 5th and 6th grade students making an instillation for their court yard, themed “Octopus’s Garden“. Here is our first attempt at making flowers. The bottom green stem is the top of a detergent bottle and the pedals are made from various colored bottles. We heat gunned each pedal down the middle to make them creased and then zip tied them each together. The center pollen piece is a fabric softener lid.

Flower Effect: Using plastic bags, we discovered a flowery effect that is extremely simple to make. Using any size piece of plastic bag, poke a screw through the bag and screw it into whatever you are mounting it on, and the plastic will wrap around the drill bit.

Attempt at plastic weaving #2: We cut detergent bottles and Maxwell coffee containers into strips and interweaved them. EVENTUAL GOAL: Build small-scale architecture completely from plastic. Know of any demographic that needs shelter (and wouldn’t mind living in plastic)??

weaving 2


weaving 1

Attempt at plastic weaving #1: We opened up a 2LT bottle, leaving the very bottom in tact, and cut it into long strips. We then tried to interweave strips of plastic in a circular pattern to create a cone-like woven shingle. Alone it wasn’t a success, but it lead us to attempt #2.

weaving 3

Indentation Experiment: Using a heat gun, we heated up sections of plastic until the surface became visibly malleable, then using a thin, rounded object (such as a pen) we stretched the plastic over it.

detergent bottle

Heat Gun Manipulation #1: For this next effect, we cut a bottle in half, and cut the rest into thin strips. Using the heat gun, we hit the strips at different angles and distances, and the strips curled.

mountain dew bottle top

tea bottle

Plastic Bag Shrink Wrapping: Using plastic shopping or garbage bags (garbage bags preferably), we coated the armature with 3-4 layers of bags and heat-gunned them. This creates a shrink-wrap effect that can, when used in large quantities, evenly cover surfaces.

shrink wrapped bags

Alternative Lighting: By sticking LED lights inside and around our Coral Reef, it not only glows but is much more colorful as well. The coral reef will be appearing lit up in a runway show on March 30th, 2012, hosted by the Indiana Arts Council.

reef with lights

Plarn: By taking plastic bags and cutting them into strips, we learned that you can knit them into a variety of shapes. This is a method called plarning, and any type of plastic bag can be used.

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