How to Make a Sculpture Using Plastic Milk Bottles

Updated November 21, 2016

If you have been given a school art project to make a sculpture with plastic milk bottles as part of a recycling challenge or competition, or if you are an art student and you want to use plastic milk bottles as a material in your sculptural work, then it is really easy with a little imagination. The key is to be playful and to experiment with the various possibilities at your finger tips.

Choose a subject for your milk bottle sculpture -- a human figure, an animal or an inanimate object. Find images to inspire you -- from photographs, postcards, magazines, books or the Internet -- if you can't think of a subject on your own.

Design your sculpture using pencil and paper first to be able to play around with creative ideas and to try to visualise your sculpture made out of plastic milk bottles. Use pictures to help you. Decide what you want to express through your sculpture -- like an environmental statement on recycling or waste, or whether it is solely a creative venture to transform the plastic milk bottle.

Decide on the scale of your sculpture. Gather sufficient milk bottles together to start construction.

Plan how you'll assemble the milk bottles to make your sculpture. Choose from the following methods -- sticking whole bottles together with glue; cutting off the bottom ends of the bottles to push one bottle into another to stack and connect the bottles together; or threading the bottles onto a wire frame.

Prepare your bottles according to the method or combination of methods you are going to use -- cut off the bottle ends or pierce a hole into the bottom of the plastic milk bottle with a craft knife or a sharp pair of scissors.

Construct your milk bottle sculpture. Look at your sculpture design and observe the main shapes that make up the object and build up those shapes in your sculpture. For instance, if making a cow sculpture out of milk bottles, make a rectangular body shape for the cow's torso. Connect the bottles together by your chosen method until you have made the rectangular torso to your required size. Make the cow's legs by pushing one bottle into another and then gluing each leg to each corner of the cow's stomach. Make a smaller rectangular block out of small plastic bottles for the cow's head and glue it onto the torso. Use bottle tops for the nose and eyes. Cut out ear shapes from the milk bottle plastic and affix them to the head. Cut strips of plastic and glue them together to make the swishing tail. Use this example of constructing basic shapes to sculpt your plastic milk bottles into the form of your chosen subject.

Leave your plastic milk bottles exposed in your sculpture, or cover with enamel paint or other materials, like food labels or fabric, to complete.

Draw some spontaneous abstract shapes on paper in pencil to create your abstract sculpture design. Apply colour to your design using a colour medium of your choice -- coloured pencils, art marker pens or paint medium. Be playful and experimental in your approach.

Gather up your plastic milk bottles and start cutting up the plastic bottles into strips, geometric or arbitrary shapes with a sharp craft knife or sharp pair of scissors.

Work out how you are going to piece together the cut pieces of plastic to form your abstract sculpture.

Arrange the plastic pieces together to construct your abstract plastic milk bottle sculpture. Use glue to stick the pieces together or fasten the plastic pieces together with thin wire, like paper clips, string or paper fasteners.

Apply colour to the sculpture using enamel paint, if desired. Add other decorative elements, such as sequins, beads or other craft materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Images of people, animals or inanimate objects
  • A4 sketchbook
  • Eraser
  • Craft knife or sharp scissors
  • Adhesive
  • Thin wire (optional)
  • Enamel paint
  • Brush
  • Food labels or fabric (optional)
  • Coloured pencils, art marker pens or paint medium
  • Paper clips, string or paper fasteners
  • Sequins, beads or craft materials (optional)
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