Woo Jin Joo

Making Plastic Precious Again

The aim of Woo Jin’s project was to bring back the value of plastic as it had had-- when it was first invented-- by creating precious jewelry pieces out of plastics found along British coasts. Originally, this project started with her personal experience as a marine conservationist volunteer in Madagascar, where she was disheartened by the vast amount of plastic waste found along the most remote coastlines. Driven by this experience, and inspired by the beautiful Bakelite plastic jewelry of the past, she wanted to show the unseen beauty of this abandoned material, and the transformative journey it had been through. Derived from fossil fuels that took hundreds of millions of years to form, plastic serves its purpose for a much shorter period, and then is thrown away, to be left there for centuries. Woo Jin believes this is not the right way to be dealing with such a precious and durable material. Her project shows the mismanagement of plastic in a poetic and playful way, so that people can reflect on this otherwise daunting environmental issue.

In her project, Woo Jin minimized the alteration of the plastics to show the beauty of the material as it was found. This, too, also permitted her to minimize an impact on the environment, since reforming plastic takes a large amount of energy, and usually ends up degrading its material quality. By leaving the plastic intact, as found, and combining it with simple joints, threads, and embroidery, Woo Jin’s project allows the finished piece to be easily dismantled and to be reused and recycled again.

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Vivien Carolyn Reinert