San Francisco artist turns trashed toys into plastic art panels

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Saturday, February 8, 2020
SF artist turns trashed toys into plastic art
One San Francisco artist has come up with a creative solution to plastic toy waste -- monochrome panels.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Parks full of plastic leftovers have popped up all over the Bay Area, like Presidio Heights Playground in San Francisco, where dropping off used toys has become a simple solution for families inundated with plastic stuff.

"Repurposing things your kid was interested in for a month or a week, things they outgrew, things they didn't like but you bought on accident," said Alyx Jones, a San Francisco mom and nanny.

One San Francisco artist has come up with another creative solution to plastic toy waste. Bernadette Bohan is doing her part to build a better Bay Area, by creating art with plastic waste.

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"These are things that were dropped off this weekend, so I would just organize these by color," said Bohan as she sorted through a table covered in plastic donations from families.

Bohan has spent the past three years recycling trashed toys in her Mission District studio.

"I like the toys to kind of have conversations," said Bohan, as she placed a small yellow Pikachu doll among a landscape of yellow toys that she glued together on one of her many monochrome panels.

"I want people to see the visual impact of how much we are throwing away"

The global dependence on plastic has created one of the biggest environmental threats to our planet. So Bohan, who has super-glued thousands of plastic pieces together, wants to find a San Francisco space large enough to display her 30-panel series, which so far has only been publicly shown a few pieces at a time.

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"It's a wow moment when they come in...They take a minute to sort of ingest it and are like oh my gosh, what are we doing?"

Bohan's plastic panels are a work in progress - she's always adding new toys and creating new themes and messaging in her work, but she's ready for more people to enjoy her colorful creations.

"Having this all together is an impactful statement and a message on how we are caring for things, how we're overproducing, over-consuming, and where do they go? It's a throwaway society, so I just want to have people think about that and also have fun."

If you have an idea about a display space or would like to contribute to Bernadette's toy collection, you can contact her at, through her website, or on Instagram at bernadettebubbles.

See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.