Every day around the world, an endless quantity of empty plastic bottles is thrown away without thinking twice, but Czech artist Veronika Richterová shows us how to turn plastic waste into beautiful artworks with her ingenious plastic bottle art.

It’s impossible not to marvel at the marvelous nature-inspired sculptures by Veronika Richterova, and certainly hard to believe that they are made from plastic garbage. I already wrote about the creation of art out of trash – The stunning recycled art by Bordalo II – but this eclectic Czech-based artist has developed a unique and innovative form of recycled art by reshaping plastic bottles into wonderful artworks.

Richterová, who worked for the Czech television before turning into a full-time artist, approached plastic bottle art in 2004 after discovering that heated plastic could be easily manipulated and deformed. What started as a simple visual experiment soon turned into a prolific production of recycled art projects. Since then, she devoted herself to what she called PET-Art and developed various techniques to turn plastic waste into art while creating hundreds of marvelous objects.

The word PET is the abbreviation of polyethylene terephthalate, the technical name for the substance commonly used to make plastic bottles and other containers. Plastic bottles are also made from oil and other substances that make them extremely durable. The negative effects that plastic bottles have on the environment are widely known, and it’s therefore imperative that plastic bottles and other PET containers are collected and recycled to create anything from clothing fibers to construction materials.

Through heating, melting, cutting, and reassembling the plastic bottles, Richterová skillfully reshapes the warmed plastic into all sorts of colourfully translucent forms, from animals and plants to food and lights. Some of her most popular pieces include Mushrooms (2005), Cactus Collection (2008), and Leaping grey mullets (2016), which she made to highlight the alarming issue of plastic pollution in the oceans. This talented plastic bottle artist realized also an incredible lighting collection called Pet Luminaries. It consists of a number of fully functioning lamps that look like glass, as well as elaborate chandeliers similar to those used in those regal 19th-century ballrooms.

In 2007 Richterová opened a PET-Art museum together with her husband, graphic designer Michal Cihlář, with the idea of mapping how the design of PET bottles has evolved throughout the years. Currently, the museum’s collection hosts about 3,000 PET plastic bottles from 76 countries around the world. Richterová also hosts upcycling classes and workshops and writes extensively about the history of plastic bottles and her longtime work with them.

The PET-Art of Veronika Richterová is certainly providing a new point of view on the amazing potentialities of creative recycling. With experts warning that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, her PET-Art shows us that recycling and creating art from plastic garbage can be fun and may lead to some brilliant results. You can learn more about Richterová’s fascinating plastic bottle art in her online gallery.

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