Made out of WHAT? Beautiful Objects from Waste Materials

The Made Out of WHAT Los Angeles Exhibition opens this Sunday in Los Angeles, California, with a preview party showcasing thought provoking art, eye-popping design, fashion, and jewelry created from waste materials.

The mission of Made Out of WHAT is to accelerate the circular economy by promoting the adaptive reuse of industrial and post-consumer waste through art and design from around the world.

The show is curated by Denise Domergue, founder of Made Out of WHAT, and features artists Hilary Beane, Marc Beekmann, Garth Britzman, Dianna Cohen, Maria Fiter, Claudia Grau, Faiza Hajji, Kate Ingold, Aaron Kramer, Cynthia Minet, Cima Rahmankhah, Alisun Franson, Karyl Sisson, Laura Stefani. Marcia Stuermer, and Gabriel Wiese.

Made Out of WHAT Los Angeles Exhibition will be open daily Dec. 12-22 from 1 pm to 7 pm.

When 8-year-old Poppy Wilder from Exeter, England, learned that most plastic ends up in our environment, she decided to take action.

“She found the whole idea of throwing away so much plastic very upsetting,” explains her mother, Kate. “We talk a bit about reusing and recycling items at home, so she You-Tubed ‘reusing plastic bottles’ and saw that they could be turned into other things.”

Poppy’s imagination took over and she created pencil cases, sweet jars, money boxes, ruck sacks, toy tortoises, snails, and snack pots. She sold the items at her school and donated the proceeds to Plastic Pollution Coalition. 

Thank you, Poppy!

Thank you Jack Johnson and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation for matching donations to Plastic Pollution Coalition this month. 

Read the facts on plastic pollution.

Take the pledge to refuse single-use plastic.

Join our global Coalition. 

By Beatrice Adler-Bolton

From start to finish, Jennifer George’s jewelry, is entirely made from ‘up-cycled gems.’ She repurposes pieces of vintage jewelry, bric-a- brac, odds and ends—delighting in the amazing variety and abundance of, “beautiful, peculiar, ‘weird wonderful’ stuff that was made all those years ago.” She is an alchemist, creating new lives and new meaning for every piece of old jewelry that she recycles.

“Costume jewelry was serious business a long time ago, not that it isn’t today, but they took it more seriously. They spent more time—the way they sourced the materials, the way they designed the pieces. It was all based on very expensive real [fine] jewelry of that moment and not so much on the trend driven cycle that we see today. And so when you cross decades and pair things that shouldn’t really be mixed, they take on a new look and they create something that you haven’t seen before, or at least, when I do it, I think its definitely something you’ve never seen before.”

She admits that it can be a long process to source so many different pieces from decades of commercial jewelry production: “You have to have a connection with things that you choose, a magnetic pull to that one piece of treasure buried in a huge tray of abandoned jewelry, older vintage pieces were so beautifully made—they just don’t make things like that any more.”

Unlike today, early plastic was considered a precious material. George: “The plastics of yesteryear were very novel, embodying the ‘Modern’ era. Plastic was a valuable commodity. Bakelite, Celluloid, Galaith and later on Lucite, ultimately lead to the industrial plastics that we use today, which clog our waterways and contaminate the world’s oceans and ecosystems. Hopefully doubling down on efforts to reduce single-use plastic and finding new ways to use old unrecyclable plastics in new and inventive ways can make a small dent in a massive global issue.”

The plastics of yesteryear were very novel, embodying the ‘Modern’ era. Plastic was a valuable commodity. Bakelite, Celluloid, Galaith and later on Lucite, ultimately lead to the industrial plastics that we use today, which clog our waterways and contaminate the world’s oceans and ecosystems.

Jennifer George

George’s work seeks to reach a decontextualized balance of a wide variety of materials, sourced from different decades and countries all over the world. “My jewelry looks as if all the pieces came together organically, as if they simply washed ashore as one,” she explains.

She uses bottle openers, old advertising pocket-knives and charms, harmonicas, “anything that feels right for the piece and surprises the eye.”

George points to a particularly alluring necklace as the perfect example of this process. “You have a David Anderson* Scandinavian Design enamel piece—typically people don’t take his work apart, as they have enormous resale value, paired with a unique brutalist copper and jadeite Mexican pendant—its very odd and unusual but looks so much better put together. It’s new again.”

She also does custom work when people ask her to put the disparate elements of the remains of their jewelry box into a piece. “I’m working with everything; from real pieces, gold with diamonds and sterling silver, or beloved pet’s dog tags or family military buttons, the lost earrings, grandmas venetian beads, the charm bracelet from high school.”

George has recently created five new one of-a-kind pieces to benefit Plastic Pollution Coalition. “I used the PPC “Refuse Plastic” Charm designed by Susan Rockefeller. I try to always include elements that refer to ocean fronts or beaches or polluted waterways to try and keep that motif front and center in the message.” At the same time, she hopes people look a little deeper and even find humor in each piece.

What’s next for George? “My dream is to do a collaboration with Chanel… just let me loose in the archives! Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Beatrice Adler-Bolton is an artist and painter who works with recycled industrial plastics in New York City

Take the pledge to refuse single-use plastic

Read the facts about plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition.

It looks like a typical Dogwood tree, but this tree was never alive. Ghost Tree is a 12-foot-tall art piece made from 250-300 single-use plastic water bottles by high school students Taylor Bosworth and Samantha Hofstetter in Bourbon, Missouri. 

Bosworth and Hofstetter created Ghost Tree to raise awareness in their hometown about how plastic pollution harms the environment and local waterways. They used metal rebar for the trunk and branches and then heated and melted the plastic bottles to create the tree bark, flowers, and leaves. 

The tree was installed at Onondaga Cave State Park, where it attracts locals and tourists alike. “The initial response to the tree is curiosity,” says Bosworth. “Everyone, all ages, goes up to the tree and has a strange urge to grab and touch it. Typically touching a so-called piece of art is a big no-no, but it’s absolutely fabulous. Locals and tourists alike get to interact with the tree physically. When people realize that the tree is made of plastic, they are totally stunned!”

Read the facts about plastic pollution. 

Take the Pledge to Refuse Single-Use Plastic.