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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Architects are a creative bunch, used to working with myriad materials, from concrete to wood, or in Gulnur Ozdaglar’s case, discarded plastic bottles. The Turkish architect, photographer, artist and jewellery designer upcycles PET bottles–basically old Coke, water and beer bottles–to create luminous costume jewellery and objects for the home.
Each stunning necklace, bracelet or pair of earrings is handcrafted from heated plastic, which bends and moulds differently to form almost organic looking forms, be they folding buds, blossoming flowers or even jellyfish. The plastic pieces are then cut, drilled, moulded and fitted with metal parts to comprise a truly singular piece of jewellery.
The interplay of light and the mixture of various densities and layers of plastic lend the works a certain soft, liquid quality, as if each piece were a watercolour painting come to life.
“I always go to markets to see the beverages section whenever I go abroad. In every country you will find a different colour or shade….I saw the beauty of the transparent, shiny, clean plastic and the many possibilities the forms can take” Ozdaglar said in an interview. She quite appropriately refers to her work as ‘Tertium Non Data,’ after the Latin term for the alchemic process of blending two different elements to form a third, new one.
As much as she may love her craft, Ozdaglar has to be careful, as the heating of plastic can release dangerous chemicals such as dioxins and phthalates into the atmosphere. Plastic recycling also requires significant amounts of energy. Some materials, such as glass, for example, can be reprocessed repeatedly from its original form, but plastic can’t, due to the numerous compounds that go into it.
Because of these complications, Ozdaglar meticulously uses the quaintly gentle heating of a candle flame to shape her works, shaping each by hand into naturally inspired forms.
She does the job beautifully, and has created everything from jewellery and bridal bouquets to lamps and decorative bowls, proving that one man’s garbage truly can be another woman’s gold.