This is Veronika Richterová: Transforming Plastics into Everyday Objects
Czech artist Veronika Richterová uses the near indestructible nature of plastic PET bottles to her advantage. By snipping, twisting, and heating the drinking vessels, she forms long-lasting sculptures that visually mirror the qualities of glass. This similarity inspired her series of PET luminaries, a project composed of fully functioning light systems in the form of chandeliers and lamps.
Check out her workshops
Czech artist Veronika Richterová creates new life from repurposed plastic PET bottles. For the last decade the artist has used various methods of cutting, heating, and assemblage to build colorfully translucent forms of everything from crocodiles to chandelier light fixtures to plants. Her obsession with plastic bottles doesn’t stop with creating artwork, Richterová has also collected over 3,000 PET plastic objects from 76 countries and writes extensively about the history and usage of plastic in her article A Tribute to PET Bottles. You can see hundreds more sculptures in her online gallery. (via Mister Finch, Lustik)
Website: Veronika Richterova
Thalo: What inspires you about PET bottles?
Veronika Richterova: The discovery – it’s something completely new.
th: Did someone teach you the technique?
VR: No, I stumbled on it by chance. I was using the hot air pistol on some metal things and I turned it on the PET bottle… I found out the bottle shrinks when heat is applied and I occurred to me they could be used for sculpture… I took me months and years to figure out the technique. I’m still perfecting it and discovering new tricks today.
th: What tools do you use?
VR: A soldering iron and a hot-air gun – whatever produces heat. Now I’m trying to overcome the size limitations imposed by the bottles so I can work in larger dimensions.
th: Can you weld them together?
VR: Not really. Once you melt the plastic, it becomes brittle. I use mechanical joints, made from the PET bottles to preserve the purity of the material. At first I looked high and low for some transparent glue, but that plastic is completely resistant to it.
th: Haven’t you done some international exhibitions?
VR: I have one, called “Homage to PET bottles,” that’s been travelling around the world for a few years. We’re not even sure where all it’s been. It’s organized through a Czech Foreign Ministry program that sends out DVDs with photos of artworks for galleries to display in the form of panels. I’ve found out in the oddest way that they have been shown as far away as Ghana and Mozambique. Just now they’re going from town to town in Lithuania.
th: Does your work inspire people?
VR: Recently I did a children’s project for a Prague gallery. I was inspired by Mexico’s Valley of the Monarch butterflies (Photo 3). The kids made their own butterflies out of PET bottles and attached them to recycled Christmas trees using the screw tops. Both they and their parents got a huge kick out of that.
th: Does your work have a deeper theme?
VR: I’m inspired by what life sends my way. I don’t have any thought-out plan…I love nature and its variations, as much as historical objects, such as Venetian chandeliers and mirrors. [I also enjoy] working within the technical limits – seeing how far I can take things.
th: What was the first thing you made?
VR: A “crystal” chandelier from clear PET bottles….. Back when I was studying drawing at the UMPRUM, I wanted to switch to glassmaking, but at that time it was impossible. So I guess I subconsciously substituted PET bottles for glass.
th: Is there anything that can’t be done?
VR: I’m sure there is. But it makes me happier to focus on what can.
You can see more of her work in photos 3 - 6 and at: www.veronikarichterova.com
All photos courtesy of and © Michal Cihlar