Description and Guidelines

Thursday, January 27, 2011

just think about it

Be sure to click and zoom in on Chris Jordan's terrifying image of the number of plastic bags used in the US alone every 5 seconds. While you are there, check out more of this remarkable "Running the Numbers" work and just try to imagine what we are doing to the planet with every choice we make.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

crocheting breast photos

Add your photos to our gallery of plastic bag breasts in the making!

Summertime SIW
gathering in Pittsburgh

Something in the Water: Project Description

Something in the Water/Project Description

Plastic, the most prevalent component of ocean debris, threatens life on earth because it persists so long in the water. Over time, it breaks down into tinier and tinier bits that are eaten by the smallest marine life at the base of our food web. PCBs, DDT and other toxic chemicals don’t dissolve in water and the plastic actually absorbs them like a sponge. Fish that eat plankton feed mistakenly on the tiny particles that leach into the tissue of the fish. As the toxins work their way up the food change, scientists believe that some commonly found in our bloodstreams and even breast milk may have originated from this source.

See link for 11.10.09 NYT article: Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash

Something in the Water is a sculptural project using plastic bags to crochet large breast-like shapes. As part of Too Shallow for Diving, I will collaborate with artists, people who do not self-identify as artists but like to crochet, and environmental groups to engage in the dual process of crocheting a reef of these shapes and raising awareness about the hazards this modern convenience has wrought.

When all the shapes are completed I will join them together into a “reef” which is intended to float at about chest height. It will hang from above (and perhaps stretch from the walls) and should be accessible for visitors to peer into and to walk around. My intent here is for the visitor to feel the implication/responsibility of seeing from the interior perspective of the breast shape as well as below and from the periphery. The scale of the finished work will be determined to some degree by the number of participants in addition to myself who are willing, able, and have time to commit to this time consuming process!

Wendy Osher/

Something in the Water: Guidelines

Something in the Water/Guidelines for Collaborators

First of all, I am thrilled that you are interested in participating in this eco-art project. This is my first stab at guidelines for it. So, if you have questions and or suggestions about how to make it clearer, please let me know!!!


Collaborators will be creating breast-like shapes that I will join together to form an organic looking reef that will float at chest level. The “yarn” is formed by folding USED plastic bags lengthwise, cutting off the handles and bottom before snipping inch-wide loops. Slip the loops together to form the yarn.

Here is a link to a You tube video showing how to crochet with plastic bags. The directions for how to make a can cover will work for the first part of the nipple:

YARN: Fold the plastic bags the long way, cut off the bottom and any handles. Snip the bag at one inch intervals producing loops one inch wide. Slip the loops together to form a long strand and roll into a ball.

SIZE: On the upper end, some will measure as much as a yard in diameter. On the low end, some of the shapes may be only a foot across at the top. Anything between is your choice. Use any size crochet hook that you like to work with….

COLOR: The only parameter I am asking you to stick to is that the nipple shape’s color should clearly contrast the breast shape’s color. Either or both parts can mix shades, but not so much as to obscure the demarcation between nipple and breast. (I crocheted my first shape out of plastic newspaper protectors. Places that recycle plastic bags and friends are also a good source. Please do not use new plastic bags!)

FORMS: The shape is formed by first crocheting a flat circle in whatever size you think will be appropriate for the scale of the breast shape you will make. This is done by increasing every other stitch as you crochet around the circle. Then stop increasing and the sides of the shape will grow straight up. When that is long enough, begin to increase to develop the wider part of the shape. When the nipple shape seems to fit your idea of scale, change colors and continue increasing as you form the rest of the shape.

WORKING TOGETHER: If you would like to participate, but don’t have the time to complete a shape yourself, one person can start it and another can complete it! Or more than two people can work together to finish a larger shape.

RECOGNITION: All collaborators will be recognized at the exhibition at the American Jewish Museum in Pittsburgh and any future exhibitions of “our reef” in other locations.

TIMELINE: The exhibition is scheduled to open in May. Since I will be joining the shapes into the larger sculpture, I will need some time. Please send all SIW shapes to me by April 1, 2011. If you live in Pittsburgh, I will be happy to pick them up!

BOTTOMLINE: Make it so you like it!

Please let me know if you are working on a piece to contribute. I need to get a sense of what we are going to end up with! Thanks so so much! Send me your questions, insights, and tips for other collaborators!