This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn morehere
Precious Plastic’s goal is to fix the plastic waste problem. One strategy we use to achieve our goal is to show the world that plastic can be (and should be) seen as a valuable, Precious material.
For plastic to be shown as a precious material, it needs to be used to make desirable things. So why not make something globally accepted as high end? Jewellery fits this purpose perfectly. Jewellery is coveted across the world and is seen as precious. Rings are given to our most cherished, watches have extremely high price tags and become collectables, earrings and necklaces are worn throughout many cultures and passed down through generations.
Historically most jewellery is made from precious metals or stones. But it is 2021, don’t you think it is time to make it from Precious recycled Plastic? With the Precious Plastic machines, many different shapes and accessories can be made. From watches made with the Precious Plastic Injection Machine by Waltic Way to acrylic offcut earrings and rings made with the Precious Plastic Sheetpress by the Offcut Studio. But do not be discouraged if you don’t have a Precious Plastic machine, you can still make precious jewellery with low-tech techniques. Read further to find out more.
Recycled Plastic vs Traditional Materials
Recycled plastic has a multitude of benefits over traditional materials. From the virtually endless colour and pattern combinations possible, to the ease of production and infinite moulds and shapes, to the novelty of wearing a handmade recycled jewel. And maybe finally each and every jewellery piece made from Precious Plastic is absolutely unique, helping to establish a deeper personal connection (which hopefully helps people keep them longer).
An additional benefit (and most important to us) is that you will be reclaiming waste and helping fight this global crisis. To mine for gold, silver and diamonds costs a lot of energy, resources and lives. Your new ring made from recycled plastic not only will look great but can help show others the power of the waste material.
Learn how to do it yourself with How-To’s!
Over the years Precious Plastic has researched and shared quite some techniques and video tutorials on how to transform plastic waste into precious jewellery. Additionally, in the last few years a bunch of people in our community have also contributed some How-tos sharing with the world how they make jewellery with recycled plastic. All the techniques make for a variety of different outcomes so be sure to play around and see what you can come up with! If you have a how-to you wish to share, submit it here!
Make Beam Jewellery - Plastic Factory Belgium
Beams offer many benefits for products. Jewellery benefits greatly from the beautiful cross-sections. The way beams flow, when they are made with the Precious Plastic Extrusion Machine, creates intricate patterns which make interestingly detailed pendants. Want to create more detailed cross-sections? Learn how to make them here.
The basic process to create jewellery is to make a small tile and cut out the shape you want. Then it is up to you if it is going to become a pendant for a necklace, a ring or earring. In this how-to we developed during Precious Plastic Version 3, there is a video walking through the entire process. You can simplify it by having access to laser or water cutting. But this allows for many creative products and shapes so have a play and test your skills!
The ultimate in low-tech. This technique does not involve any of the Precious Plastic machines but just a toaster oven and some smooth oven-proof tiles. You can melt the bottle caps as is or add some shredded plastic to add some variation. After melting all you need is to drill a hole and add the earring hooks! Simple yet beautifully effective.
Precious Plastic Jewellery reaching world leaders!
A great way to impact the world is by seeing powerful and inspiring world leaders take to recycled plastic products. Recently, Remix Plastic out of New Zealand had their earrings worn by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. This helps tremendously to affirm that recycled plastic is a material to be valued.
10 workspaces pushing the possibilities of recycled plastic jewellery
There are many workspaces around the world making jewellery out of recycled plastic. These are just a handful of some incredibly dedicated and talented workspaces doing great work to transform plastic waste into precious jewellery! Check out the Bazar to find jewellery being sold.
These workspaces provide plenty of inspiration to help you get on the right track. They use a variety of techniques and machines to create their unique styles. Find a style you like? Figure out how and what they create their jewellery with and start experimenting, find your style and start inspiring others to join Precious Plastic.
Remix Plastic 🇳🇿
A workspace in New Zealand that has been making big waves in their local community and the world. Using 3D printer offcuts (PLA) and ice cream container lids (PP) they create detailed earrings that tie directly to New Zealand culture. They use these plastic types to educate around the use of technology for innovative solutions to Climate Change and to point out the issues with large scale commercial recycling AND divert waste from landfill. Amazing work!
Brothers Make 🇬🇧
New to the jewellery game, Matt and Jonny from Brothers Make have shown once again their skill and thoughtfulness behind their new traditional Māori necklaces. As always, they have created a video to go alongside the release of these necklaces that shows the life of the product, from the inception of the idea to the finished product. Check out the video here!
Cura Jewellery 🇨🇭
A staple to the Precious Plastic jewellery scene, Cura Jewellery has been working for many years now. Combining recycled HDPE and ethically sourced metals, Cura can make a super high-quality product that transcends the material. Beautiful!
Plastic Factory 🇧🇪
Plastic Factory out of Brussels, Belgium, has been making high-quality products for a long while. Their earrings and necklace pendants are keeping with that theme. Using sheets to cut out shapes or using beam cross-sections, they can create beautiful designs that showcase the best of the material. Check out their how-to about making jewellery out of beams.
Offcut Studio 🇬🇧
Lucy from the Offcut Studio has been producing high-quality jewellery for a long while now. Using local artist’s acrylic offcuts in Leeds, they can create amazing pieces in their own right. Showing that all material deserves a long life.
Cab Design 🇧🇷
A low-tech and simple method made by Brazillian designer Cab Design. A project developed for her final college project Chiara simplified the recycling process by using her home oven, silicone cupcake moulds and two glass boards to press the plastic. Simple yet highly effective, we love to see it!
Nikky Tonello 🇮🇹
Nikky has been slowly perfecting her craft and developing delicate pieces for years. Made from beams and tiles, her work is gorgeous. Even creating some wedding bands to help celebrate Mattia and Catie’s wedding.
Antrópica’s melting process leads to stunning patterns, which creates interesting and vibrant earrings and pendants. Their colour choices pop and are to be admired. Explore the rainbow!
A fairly new workspace out of the Netherlands.. They specialise in creating colourful candy-like rings. Extreme attention to detail. Using injection moulding they create lovely patterns that compliment the recycled plastic beautifully. A group to look out for!
PlúsTic Lab 🇪🇸
One way to change minds on recycled plastic is to show it in familiar settings. Showing that it is a precious material by putting it in traditional modelling shots. PlúsTic Lab has proven that recycled plastic does not look out of place in such a setting. Delicate, refined and sophisticated, PlúsTic Lab doing it all.
The crocheting masters. Théla has been paving the way for working with plastic bags to make strikingly detailed patterns. This crochet work lends itself nicely to jewellery. Adding colourful and unique detail. Check out the how-to they made and be inspired!
Your time to join?!
A goal of Precious Plastic has always been to create a shift in thinking of plastic as a material. To show all that goes into the material and all of its untapped potentials. These workspaces are changing the way we see plastic, as a material to be cherished- just like many beloved jewellery pieces. Remember to support these workspaces' amazing work and be inspired by the possibilities. Changing the game!