Why Polypropylene?

Stephen J. Arias

You don’t have to read back too far through this blog to see that my work has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. I used silver and resin for several years and my work seemed to do quite well. I sold through galleries, online and through craft fairs. Things were ticking along quite nicely. After a move to Scotland in 2013 I had a break from making while the family settled into our new surroundings. Eventually I was ready to start working again, but I began to question my old practices.

Like most people, I try to live and eat as healthily as possible, I avoid unnecessary chemicals as much as I can. I began to think about the impact that working with resin could potentially have on my own health and that of the environment. I had to face the fact that my studio health and safety was a bit sloppy (could I honestly say I always wore gloves and a mask?). Even though I mixed up small batches, there was always a tiny amount of waste material in the bottom of the cup which would end up in the bin…landfill…oceans!

I started playing with different materials…polymer clay…leather…wood…mother of pearl…acrylic…I eventually discovered polypropylene! Yes, it is still plastic, but I love the vibrant colours offered by synthetic materials and unlike resin, this plastic is recyclable! Commonly used for stationery, food packaging and even bank notes. My new process creates absolutely no waste as every tiny scrap can be incorporated into a new piece.

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