IN the Czech Republic, Veronika Richterova is a specialist PET-art sculptor who transforms those clear plastic bottles into lovely objects in her studio in the town of Bustehrad, near Prague.
According to her website, veronikarichterova.com, Czechs are said to be do-it-yourself experts out of necessity.
During the days of communism, shops throughout the country were empty and consumer goods were severely lacking. So people were compelled to innovate with home-made solutions.
However, even after 1989, when the “velvet revolution” ushered in democracy and free markets, DIY work did not disappear but continued, especially in rural areas, where they have a long tradition.
PET bottles are strong, flexible, unbreakable, light, resistant to solvents and – above all – cheap.
But this also means that they do not break down naturally. So they end up as unsightly garbage or clogging waterways and causing floods.
Some of us constantly buy bottled water only to throw the bottle away each time, something which is quite ridiculous both economically and environmentally.
Most water (and soft drinks) bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate, known commonly as PET, a clear plastic.
In Malaysia, we see these bottles often being reused in many ways:
> Filled with water and then used as weights to prevent banners from fluttering in the wind.
> With the top cut off to make a free funnel.
> Cut along the sides and used to protect padlocks on outdoor gates from rusting.
Note that reusing old bottles is different from recycling as no energy-intensive processing is required, just a simple washing of the old bottles.
In order to make a functional product from these bottles, all that is needed is a sharp knife or scissors, and perhaps a piece of wire or sticking tape.
Richterova (born 1964) has been devoted systematically to serious artistic work with PET bottles since 2004.
The easily malleable material has surprisingly proved to be an excellent material for fulfilling her artistic intentions.
For this part of her artistic aspirations, she has chosen the designation PET-Art.