Updates on the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

At the end of February 2018 I finished making a 26 foot long necklace out of black plastic as a commentary about plastic in our oceans. 

The necklace was photographed on a plain white paper background, on a mannequin, on the model and finally in an act of creativity in a imaginary photograph which you can see above.  Click on the links or these photos to read the post on ASK Harriete where I show the deliberation about each photographic image. 
 

Photo Credit for above images:  Philip Cohen for plain white background, mannequin and model. Underwater photo creation Aryn Shelander using model shot by Philip Cohen.  Model Jen Ohara.
 

The Black Plastic Gyre Necklace will be shown in the upcoming exhibition Uneasy Beauty at the Fuller Craft Museum. 


Fabrication of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

Scroll down this page to learn more about the assembly of this exhibition piece and the impact of plastic on our earth. 

In this photo (below), you can see me assembling the necklace at about the half way point. 

 Harriete Estel Berman assembling the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

The Black Plastic Gyre Necklace was assembled in sections, and then the sections were tied together. The shorter sections could facilitate the threading, and it is practical insurance that it will never completely come apart. If one set of the mono-filament threads broke, only a portion of the necklace would break. 

In the next image (below) my husband Bill is using his extensive Eagle Scout knot knowledge to tie the individual lengths together. 

 Tying the knots on the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace

 Single Use Plastic is Destroying Our Planet

Plastic is everywhere. No matter where you go, you see plastic blown into bushes and plastic debris. There are five gigantic gyres of plastic in our oceans. Plastic is breaking into micro-particles eaten by marine animals and fish. 

The sheer volume of plastic trash now littering Earth has become impossible to ignore. It's time for environmentalists, policymakers and elected officials to start planning a broader response: phasing out all single-use plastic, not just the most pernicious.

 

I wondered how plastic got to the oceans until I looked at the streets.

 Black plastic take-out tray, black plastic spoon, and cellophane in the street.
 black plastic Sharpie pen cap laying in the street

All of these objects shown here were laying in the street on my path to the gym. For day after day I walked past them saying, "I will take a photo of them after class."  Each day they inched closer to the storm sewer on their own. Driven over by cars, they were crushed and dirty, but still whole. Thank goodness there was no rain.

Finally, I stopped, photographed their path to the storm sewer. If they were washed into the storm sewer, they would go directly to the San Francisco Bay and out into the ocean contribution to the gigantic volumes of plastic waste in our oceans. This is what the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace is all about.

For your information I carried the black plastic take-out tray to the trash. The tray was too broken and dirty to use. Black plastic is not recyclable. The marker cap and spoon, I carried home, washed and incorporated into the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace. 

Plastic does not degrade. Instead, it breaks into micro-particles eaten by the marine animals and fish.   

 Super Green plastic bottle laying in the street. There is nothing green about plastic
 Super green bottle laying on the street.

This Super Green plastic bottle was laying on the sidewalk. There is nothing green about plastic.

Check out this post "I See Plastic - Everywhere" on ASK Harriete.   At the bottom of the post, I continue to document the plastic I find on one block of 43rd Avenue in San Mateo, California. 

Five days a week, I photographed the plastic in the street. (Then I pick it up and put it in the trash or recycling.)

I used to wonder how the plastic landed in the ocean. Now I see how. 

   

 

 Black Plastic Takeout Trays and Waste

I collected post consumer black plastic waste for a Black Plastic Gyre Necklace for years, but my accumulation was slow. I avoid all purchases with black plastic, if possible.  When the eight week project started, I needed more black plastic fast.  Many people saw my posts on social media for black plastic takeout trays, bottle caps, pen caps, black plastic straws, deli containers, nail polish caps, yogurt lids, or anything else made from black plastic.  I am very grateful for all the contributions. Read the post Assistants, Assistance and Generosity to Complete the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace for an evolving list of people who helped make this possible.

 Black plastic rotiersserie chicken take out tray and the cut pieces it generated,

Above photo  is one black take tray from a rotisserie chicken and the plastic shapes that I cut from this tray. Are you aware that chemicals in plastic leech into your food. Your body absorbs the plastic chemicals as hormones causing fertility problems. Food that is heated in plastic is even more vulnerable to absorbing plastic chemicals. Never heat your food in plastic even if it says "microwave safe."

 NOSA Yogurt container cut into tentacles for a black plastic gyre necklace boa. 

A black plastic lid from Nosa Yogurt was cut into multiple parts for my Black Plastic Gyre Necklace. This is about the impact of plastic in our oceans. More specifically, black plastic is bad, very bad and not recyclable (despite that it has a recycle number.)  At automated recycling centers, plastic is sorted by optical scanners which use the reflection of light to identify the types of plastics. Black plastic doesn’t reflect light, so can not be seen and sorted by the optical scanners.
 

 go-green black plastic to cut up
 go-green black plastic food container cut up

GO-GREEN black plastic container (left) is not "green" in any way. This is a prime example of green washing. Black plastic is not good for the environment. Plastic is a petroleum base product which has huge environmental issues in itself. Add the fact that most black plastic is not recycled even though it has a recycle number on it. 

This container was used to sell Brussel Spouts Half-Cut from Trader's Joe's. Rather ironic don't you think buying green vegetables in black plastic? 

In the photo above, I cut up the GO-GREEN black plastic into pieces for a black plastic gyre necklace boa.

 black plastic takeout container cut into parts for black plastic gyre necklace boa 

Above photo shows a black plastic takeout container for Japanese takeout. The shape of each black plastic container seems to generate a unique vocabulary of forms for the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace. I cut plastic for hours every day on a eight week marathon to get this Black Plastic Gyre Necklace done in time. 

Each container inspires a different vocabulary of shapes.

 Black plastic coffee cups lids
 coffee cup lid cut into separate pieces for artwork

Example coffee cup lids (left photo) and one coffee cup lid cut up into fragments (right photo.)

 Black plastic food packaging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Black Plastic Bracelet

 Black Plastic Recycle Bracelet on Mannequin
   Photo Credit for Black Plastic Recycle Bracelet Aryn Shelander                                   Model: Jen Ohara    

This Black RECYCLE Bracelet emerges from post consumer plastic discards of coffee cup lids, take out trays, and packaging. The volume of single use containers darkens our future, polluting our landfills, oceans, and waterways. 

Black plastic is the worst offender. It can not be recycled, reused or re-purposed. It does not degrade, but instead breaks down into micro particles eaten by fish and animals further increasing human exposure to plastic in our food.

Can awareness of the long term environmental impact of plastic change behavior?

This one of kind bracelet is easy to wear despite its dark and threatening appearance. The cut plastic is soft, durable and tough. 

Recycle bracelet constructed from post consumer recycled plastic is from the Recycle Collection. Button catch with loop closure is very secure.

Photo Credit (left image) Aryn Shelander
Model:  Jen Ohara

 Photo Credit (image below) Steven Michaels Photography

   Black Plastic Bracelet from post-consumer recycled black plastic    

Bracelet closed: 13” H  x  12”W  x  12” D
Inventory # 14blackbrj1.12.1575.          © Harriete Estel Berman, 2012