Description and Guidelines



Eco-Art project: Something in the Water

Crochet with plastic bags?! Learn how and participate in an eco-art project using plastic bags to crochet breast shapes that will be joined together in a reef shape. Highlighting this dark side of our dependency on plastic bags, concerned people are crocheting breast shapes from plastic bags. The first reef crocheted by women around the world, exhibited at an art exhibition at the American Jewish Museum in Pittsburgh in May of 2011, drew so much intrigue it seemed the project had untapped potential!

In 2012, a reef managed by Daisy Maciel in Porto Allegre, Brazil was exhibited at a city building for a special event. While on a residency in rural Turkey last summer, I discovered the project is also an excellent vehicle for cross cultural common ground.  Still seeking a manager for Turkey. In May I am off to Israel/Palestine where I hope to meet with concerned women who want to start a reef there. The ultimate vision is that all reefs will come together to join in a giant exhibition.

If you would like to participate, Search Project Guidelines and Description on blog for more details. Contact Wendy Osher:

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

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. You start with the nipple shape making a small circle and then crocheting without increases to make the sides grow vertically. Increase to form the breast shape outward, increase less frequently to shape it upward.  When the nipple shape seems to fit your idea of scale, change colors and continue increasing as you form the rest of the shape. Make it how you like it. Tighter crocheting will give the breast more sculptural integrity.

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.

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!

Email any questions!