Plastic Gold : Ziurla Necklace

Recycled plastic bottles can be used to make jewelry. How good they are as design pieces depends on the artistic creativity of the artisans who use them.

French born Florie Salnot is one of the most creative. This former student and current design research associate of the Royal College of Art is working with a non-profit organization called Sandblast.

The charity helps displaced Saharawis or Sahrawis living in refugee camps in Algeria to "tell their own story, promote their own culture and earn a living through the arts. "  

She developed a unique technique to convert recycled plastic bottles into astonishingly good faux gold jewelry.  The method has to be simple because there aren't a whole lot of resources available to make jewelry at the camps. The plastic bottles are easily collected from the litter around the camps.  The jewelry makers need only hot sand, pigment, nails and wooden boards.

Back of Ziurla necklace
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The bottles are painted, cut into strips which are then wound around nails placed in wooden boards. Hot sand is then poured over the design. The heat treatment shrinks the plastic which conforms to the pattern formed by the nails. Florie says, "It is a very simple technique which, however, has the power to make the non-precious become precious. "  This trade-not-aid project is indeed worthy of the name Plastic Gold.

Plastic Gold : Hot Sand Technique

Working with hot sand
Saharawi women at work making jewelry
Florie (shown below) is still training the women in this highly creative process.  These newly minted artisans are passionate about their work and recognize the earning potential of their recycled jewelry. Check out her video which shows how the women were taught the technique and some of the resulting designs at the end.

The pieces you see here are Florie's designs. She is currently looking for retailers to sell and thus launch the production with the Saharawis. If you are an interested shop owner or know of one, please contact Florie through her website.


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