Artist makes stunning one-off guitar from recycled marine plastic

Three years ago, creator Burls Art released a video documenting the building of his first guitar, which featured a body made from 1,200 colored pencils. The video went viral and more impressive builds followed. Now the artist has partnered with 4ocean to make a double-cut from recycled marine plastic.

The first build video has so far amassed more than 33 million views on YouTube, and marked the beginning of a maker journey that’s seen materials like rock salt, paper, carbon fiber, coffee beans, skateboards and Lego join epoxy to form an impressive catalog of stunning one-off builds. There’s even an eye-popping infinity mirror guitar.

Burls Art continuously pushes himself to improve his skills and find new ways to make rocking eye candy, and the latest creation proved quite a challenge.

Since 2017, Florida-based 4ocean has been on a mission to reclaim plastic waste from oceans, rivers and coastlines and use it to make bracelets, while also selling other merchandise and products to help fund cleanup operations in the US and beyond. As of this month, some 20 million pounds of marine trash has been recovered.

While most of that has been pulled in by 4ocean employees, last year the company partnered with Polaru Marine to develop and test the BeBot, a remote-controlled solar/battery-powered robot designed to clear rubbish from up to 3,000 sq m (32,000 sq ft) of coastline every hour.

Shredded pieces of plastic waste were oven-baked in a steel box before being cut, shaped and routed
Shredded pieces of plastic waste were oven-baked in a steel box before being cut, shaped and routed

Burls Art

For the guitar build, Burls Art joined a team in South Florida to go diving for ocean plastic waste. The haul was taken to the 4ocean facility to be weighed, sorted and processed. After gathering bags of shredded high-density polyethylene and plastics from such things as bottles, caps, forks and so on, he returned to his workshop and set to work.

The plastic pieces were poured into a lined steel box and placed in a specially-bought domestic oven and set to bake at 350 °C to melt and merge. The hardened block was then cut to a double-horned body template, routed for the pickups and pots, and shaped before being buffed up.

A clear epoxy neck with plastic waste items within was attempted, but sadly failed at the fret pressing stage so Burls Art went back to the drawing board and opted for a maple neck with an epoxy fingerboard embedded with plastic straws. The top of the headstock is also epoxy, with a few bottle caps thrown in and topped with logos.

The finished beauty has two pickups, chrome hardware and three control knobs for volume and tone. The bolt-on neck doesn’t have a truss rod, which is a bit of a risk but Burls Art is hoping that the epoxy fingerboard will be enough to keep things straight and true. It plays too, as you can see toward the end of the build video below. And in a cool twist, much of the waste plastic from the build project itself was recovered to be used in a future project.

I Built a Guitar Out of Ocean Plastic

Source: Burls Art