How Plastic Cups Become Art

We’re steadily working through a couple years of old Starbucks iced drink cups that Markie has been collecting.  They’re generally the 16 ounce, Grande cups, and one nice thing is that they are clear with only a little bit of ink on them.

The goal is to make sure you can’t tell that the lampshade has old plastic for the lampshade, and you really can’t tell when you look at it and feel it.  It’s hard, not as hard as glass, but definitely not something like a plastic cup.  Part of that is because it’s a lot thicker but mainly it’s that rich, warm, golden brown color of the panels.

I’m pretty sure if I warmed the plastic at a lower temperature for a longer time, I’d end up with more white and less brown. It’s kind of like cooking, the plastic browns a little just like any organic goo like bread dough or a roasted turkey.  Higher temp, more brown – so far I haven’t blackened the plastic, and here’s crossing my fingers that I don’t.

But the cups themselves have ink on them, as I mentioned, not much, but that mermaid logo is pretty prominent so there’s always a bit of green. And there was that batch of Christmas cups which had the words “Ho Ho Ho” prominently printed all over the cups in red.

Surprisingly the ink doesn’t show much in the final product, it just gives a nice accent, a bit of texture and surprise.  You don’t see the word Ho, or a flake of the mermaid face, partly because I grind this plastic up, but mainly because it all melts, it gets smooshed around before being pressed between two plates of metal or granite.

Any ink that goes on the cup becomes a little swirl or a dot or… just mixes in with the gentle brown panels. But every now and then, you can see the hint of the mermaid peering from the deeps as if to say hello.

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