Making the Plastic Parade

We began collecting plastics and recycling them into costumes during the first lockdown in 2020, which included the Mandi costume & puppet for Thurrock Festival 2020.

This year after taking part in the Climate Coalition’s Show the Love campaign in February 2021, Emily began designing a series of costumes inspired by the Suffragettes’ wearable sandwich-board style placards, themed to environmental issues. This series of costumes became the Plastic Parade.

The Plastic Parade is a peaceful protest creatively highlighting the effects of plastic pollution. Each costume is created entirely from plastic packaging which would have otherwise gone to landfill because it is not currently recycled locally on the doorstep.

We were delighted to be able to share the costumes in person at the Green Week Thurrock Eco Fayre as well as online on our social medias and blog.

How were they made?

We used the same technique to make the Plastic Parade costumes which we tested on the Mandi costume; however, these costumes are smaller in size/length as they are made for people walking on the ground rather than on stilts.

The fabric of each costume is made from fusing hand-cut elements from plastic wrappers within a clear plastic tray liner, saved from our online grocery shop during the first lockdown, which measures 50cm by 1m when cut open. We then added straps made from strips of a plastic bag, fused together with a domestic iron for strength.

For example, for the Clematis #SaveTheButterflies, the flowers, flower stem, grass and butterflies were all individually cut from the plastic wrappers. We then played around with how we wanted them laid out to create a garden scene.

Once we were happy, the individual hand-cut elements were placed within the plastic tray liner so that there was a sheet of clear plastic on the top and bottom.

This was then ironed at a low heat between two sheets of greaseproof paper to fuse the plastics together taking care to ensure that all the edges were completely sealed.

To make the costume wearable, but also keep its flat shape so it can be later used as a wall hanging, we attached tie straps to the shoulder and at the waist, to give the wearer full range of movement. Each strap is made from strips of plastic cut from the tray liners, folded in half and ironed together for strength.

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