Rhonda Weppler

↩︎ DIY Tutorials

Itty-bitty bowl

May 2020
Museum of Arts and Design, New York City

Make a stylish bowl out of melted plastic recycled from shampoo, mustard, milk, and other plastic bottles. You can mail them together, as traveling companions, or separately for that added suspense. Alternatively, your bowl can fly solo and lead a single life as a pinch bowl.

The short version…

Note: This project took a lot of figuring out and fussing. Maybe not the most relaxing of activities, but really does give you a solid understanding of casting with HDPE plastic.

Collect only HDPE (#2) plastic for this project. Cut it up into small pieces. Include some frosted milk jug type pieces; these will turn clear when hot, letting you know if the plastic is melted or not.

Three 7.5 fl oz (221mL) cans are used as molds for this project. Cut and fold the cans to form the parts shown.

The plastic is melted in layers on a tray lined with aluminum foil in a toaster oven set at 325° F. The loop cut from a can keeps the plastic bits in a circle. The bowl will need the equivalent of three even layers of plastic total.

Fuse the melting plastic together through using a silicone spatula wrapped in parchment to squish the pieces. Repeat this process, and continue to sprinkle in the layers.

Once a smooth disc of multi-coloured plastic is created, it is cooled slightly and trimmed roughly to neaten the circle a bit. It is then centered on the bottom half of the mold, and placed in the oven with the top half to melt thoroughly.

Once the disc has melted and slumped in the mold, remove from the oven and quickly press the top of the mold on forcefully. Return to the oven—with the oven turned off—to cool slowly.

Cool completely and remove from the mold. Place in the bottom “bowl” cut from a can and heat just to soften. While wearing gloves and the bowl is still hot, trim along the indent and edge of the aluminum “bowl” with a pair of sharp scissors.

The bowl is now complete, but you can also add a matching base (see video for details)

In the wild…

It made it! The bowl and spoon I made in this video arrived at my friend Michelle’s house in Steveston, British Columbia, Canada. Here it is on her curiosity shelf.