Bronze vessels made from recycled polystyrene packaging

For Fragments, artist and designer Kris Lamba created an ongoing series of bronze vessels, made during a recycling process of polystyrene packaging.

Polystyrene is a much-loved packaging material, but very hard and expensive to recycle. This means most of the material ends up on landfills on the best-case scenario. Polystyrene is currently the fourth most found plastic on beaches worldwide.

Lamba was inspired for his series of vessels when endless stacks of polystyrene kept piling up in his studio. He found that there was no environmentally friendly way of recycling this waste, as all solvents used to dissolve the foam create extremely harmful by-products.

After much experimentation, however, Lamba discovered that with a concentrated form of oil, made from the rinds of oranges, it is possible to dissolve polystyrene without harmful side effects. The dissolved material can then be safely disposed of or recycled.

During the dissolving process, the foam is corroded by the oil, leaving otherworldly indentations. To preserve these unique forms, Lamba placed molten wax inside the cavities. The wax forms are then surrounded in multiple ceramic layers, before it’s melted out in a kiln. Finally, the shape is cast in bronze to make the vessels.

Because the oil corrodes the polystyrene at random, each vessel is unique and represents the certain moment in time when the wax is added.

The bronze vessels are worked by hand, gradually being refined, fettled and polished, before being given a hot torch patination of pure silver nitrate.

Lamba believes that the forms created though this process represent life’s evolutionary process. “Just like we observe in nature, what may at first seem entirely destructive and devastating can ultimately lead to the creation of new forms and life,”  he says. “These vessels are a man-made example of the ‘accidental beauty’ nature gives us each day.”

Photos: Kris Lamba