from trash to fine art: upcycled plastic sculptures

From Trash to Fine Art: Upcycled Plastic Sculptures

Turning trash into art is my kind of recycling! We saw these pieces of marine animals made out of recycled plastic at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (where we also loved the jellyfish and seahorse exhibits). Sayaka Gantz made these sculptures out of reclaimed materials that might have otherwise been polluting the ocean.

upcycled plastic art, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Both sides of her pieces are interesting! Can you see all the plastic cutlery? My kids had fun trying to identify all the plastic parts.

upcycled plastic art, Monterey Bay Aquarium DSC_0972

Erica of What Do We Do All Day? said, “It reminds me of that famous photo with the bird that swallowed all the plastic debris.”

dead bird full of trash it ingested

Chris Jordan documents animals ingesting plastic, with fatal consequences. I found this on TreeHugger.

upcycled plastic art, Monterey Bay Aquarium, from trash to art


We saw another plastic sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It’s made entirely of plastic drinking cups.  Some of the cups are squished in order to make the wonderful organic curvy lines. It’s hanging from the ceiling of the first floor.

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The idea of recyclables being turned into fine art got me thinking of what you can do with recycled plastic. What do you think of using it to build a house? Or a school? Watch plastic bottles turn into a school room in this 3.5 minute feel good video!


My thanks to Jacquie from KC Edventures for this find: Amazing Shadow Sculptures made from trash!

Amazing shadow sculptures made from recycled trash

amazing shadow puppets made from trash

My next step is to save the plastic that we usually thow out in our recycle bin and have the kids make art from it. Stay tuned.

Would you and your kids want to try a recycled plastic art project too? If you do (or have done it already), I’d love to include a photo of your project!

p.s. So far, PickyKidPix has just used plastic cups to develop “mad cup stacking skills“. She might turn those cups into a sculpture though. You just never know about her!

from trash to fine art: upcycled plastic sculptures

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. What an amazing bunch of projects in one post. I thought the bottle house was going to be for show, didn’t realize it was actually going to be used for a real school. How inventive!
    Faigie recently posted…Embroidery for kids: Embroider on paper for a mixed media projectMy Profile

  2. Those shadow sculptures are so cool! We need to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
    maryanne recently posted…World Culture for Kids: Sydney, AustraliaMy Profile

  3. And that is one piece of art there. It’s really surprising what artist ideas people come up these days, specially with the use of materials that are considered as junk or, in some words, a garbage.

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