Many of us are left to wonder whether recycling does actually happen, or whether it’s all just dumped into one big hole under the pretence that at least we have grouped our waste into different categories. Well, whether our governments are being true to us or not, there is one designer in the world that is making a actual difference. Her name is Florie Salnot, and she has turned jewellery making into a weapon against poverty.

 

 

Florie has always been involved in both design and social issues. She graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris in history of arts and anthropology, followed by an MA in product design from the Royal College of Arts in London.

She has always aimed to employ design to solve social issues, asking the question: “How can design be applied to go beyond aesthetics or technical innovation and help to solve social problems”. This has led her to experiment with a range of materials to discover their properties, strengths and weaknesses, and consequently new and ethically sound uses. This is how the Plastic Bottle project was born.

 

The Plastic Bottle Project, which was enabled thanks to the help and sponsorship of Sandblast charity, focused on finding opportunities to make the Saharawi people who live in the Algerian desert more independent from humanitarian help and to give them mediums for self expression. It has also provided them with a technique and tools with which they can design their own pieces and renew their local craft traditions in an original way. With this project, Florie Salnot also explored her interest in cultural diversity which she has analysed in her MA dissertation – Cultivate Cultural Diversity Through Design – for which she got a distinction.

Watch the short documentary Florie Salnot produced to introduce her jewellery-making workshop in the Sahrawi refugee camps in SW Algeria.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44Opdzeq4oc&w=420&h=315]

 

The technique is simple; all that is needed are plastic bottles, hot sand, a knife and nail board, which is what is available to the Saharawi community. The bottle is painted and cut into thin stripes. Nails are then put onto the nail board to create the chosen design.

The plastic stripes are wrapped around the nails, and the whole concoction is then submerged in hot sand. The plastic reacts to the heat and shrinks around the nails, whilst retaining the chosen design. The item finally requires a few last handcrafted steps to be turned into a unique piece of jewellery.

 

 

This project is true originality and infinitely beautiful. Focusing on a part of Africa that may be often overlooked, Algeria’s Saharawi tribe bring to you with the support of Florie and the Sandblast project something fresh, new and stunning.

 

These pieces are truly gorgeous. And, it’s so easily done – so low tech. So, for those artists among you looking for inspiration, find images and more information at Salnot’s website: http://www.sandblast-arts.org/projects

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