Valeria Thomas, art and plastic


Recycling is an essential part of her life.

Valeria Thomas, French artist,passionate of melted plastic , began working with plastic bags in 2002 with the challenge of making “something” with the many bags that can not be recycled and are declared “public enemy No.1” for the environment.

And after a few trials with the iron… it melts. And it’s beautiful!

Valeria then splurged  into the creation of small objects, starting with jewelry, then larger pieces, then assembling them with the sewing machine, welding them, molding them. She creates fashion accessories,house decorations and real pictures. Her latest creations are sculptures of jellyfish, with this wonderful material.

A network of supporters has formed around her project in the city of Les Lilas (near Paris) where she lives. She collects bags sorted by color, cutting them, composes and overlaps and melts them with the heat of the iron!

The resulting surfaces are bold colors , graphic. Renewing her original profession : textile design.

Today, plastic bags are rarer in France, it’s true, and that’s good for the environment! However, ValeriaThomas still has a few years of recycling ahead of her… And when they disappeared completely ? She will do something else!

3 coupelles


La récup fait partie de sa vie depuis toujours !

Valéria Thomas, artiste française, passionnée de plastique fondu, commence en 2002 avec le défi de fabriquer « quelque chose » avec les nombreux sacs plastiques qui, non recyclables sont déclarés « ennemis publics n°1 » pour l’environnement !

Et après quelques essais avec un fer à repasser… ça fond. Et c’est beau !
Valéria se lance alors dans la création d’objets de petite taille, à commencer par des bijoux. Puis des surfaces plus grandes, modelées ensuite en les cousant, en les soudant, les moulant. Elle réalise alors des accessoires de mode, de décoration, puis de vrais tableaux. À présent, ses dernières creations sont des sculptures de méduses, avec ce merveilleux matériau.

Un véritable réseau se forme autour de son projet dans la ville des Lilas (près de Paris) où elle habite. Elle récupère des sacs qu’elle trie ensuite par couleur, découpe, compose et superpose, puis fais fondre à la chaleur d’un fer à repasser !
Les surfaces obtenues sont solides et naturellement colorées, graphiques. Ainsi elle renoue avec son métier d’origine : le design textile.

Aujourd’hui les sacs plastique se font plus rares, c’est vrai, et c’est tant mieux pour l’environnement ! Cependant, Valéria Thomas a encore quelques belles années de récup devant elle… Et lorsqu’ils auront totalement disparu ? Elle fera autre chose !

Interview / Maria Montiel

If you don’t have faith in you and your work, who would?

-Maria Montiel

Maria Montiel is a graphic designer specialized in textile design and illustration, originally from Venezuelan, currently living in Madrid, working as a freelance designer. Her work is very organic, much of inspiration comes from Latin America with its vivid colors and rich textures. Maria’s studio is full of treasures from her trips, sketches, plants, and lots and lots of inks, watercolors and markers. She has a personal project that it’s been active since a few years, where she experiments and tries new things, her personal brand: Cayena Blanca.


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Maria Virginia, I was born in Venezuela and currently I live and work from in Madrid, Spain. I am an illustrator with a degree in Graphic design and a specialization in pattern design. I work as a freelance textile designer for commissioned work and I also have a brand called Cayena Blanca, is a very personal space where I create products with my prints like: smartphone cases, notebooks, stationary in general and accessories. I have been interested in art since I was very young, every time we were on family vacations my parents always brought my sister and I to all the museums, they are both architects and they love teaching.


Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?

The inspiration for my personal work comes from inside, how I am feeling, my memories, my nostalgic of living away from home, my dad’s orchid garden, my trips. When I work for other clients I usually follow my client’s concept and story.


Do you have a favorite piece in your mind? 

I feel very close to my psycho orchids project, it’s a little different from what I usually do, but it has the same feeling of organic movement and bold use of colour that it’s my signature. For this project I was inspired by my dad’s love for orchids, these were everywhere when I was growing up and I love everything about them. They are so rare and unique. (click here to see a making film of psycho orchids)

psycho-orchids2 psycho-orchids

What do you think the artist is in society?

I think as an artist your role in society is to speak a new language through your work, being true to yourself and honest about the message you want to send to any one that approach your art.

What’s the best thing about being a woman artist?

In my case, I have been able to express everything I wanted to in a very honest way. I am not sure if it’s because I am a woman or because of my personality.


What is the most difficult part of being a female artist?

For me it is not about being a female artist, it is very difficult being an artist. And I also think this is very personal and has a lot to do with your personality and what you project as an individual, more than being a woman.

How do you manage in such a situation?

Working hard, I am a little workaholic, I do a lot of exercise to manage stress and stay focused and trying to have fun while working.


Did you ever feel like giving up?

Yes, of course I have, sometimes I still do. This is not a super balanced career, I mean there are very hard times and very happy times, you have to balance the experiences, that can be crazy sometimes. I think perseverance and hard work makes the difference, that does not mean that your are never going to feel depressed and worry about what’s next, or if you are going to be good enough, or if you ever going to be paid, this just mean that besides all that, you need to keep going and believing in yourself. If you don’t have faith in you and your work, who would?


How do you look at your previous pieces?

It depends a lot on the piece, some times I don´t like it at all and I want to change all about it and sometimes I surprise myself liking a piece from a long time ago even more.

How does your cultural background affect your work?

I think when you live away from home, you try to keep all those memories and feelings very close to your heart, because you really don’t want to lose those and forget where you came from, at least in my case. So for me my culture background plays a very important role when looking for inspiration.


What is your dream project?

Right now, I dream about working with graphics in architecture. I would love to create a unique art for a venue inspired by the cultural background and organic life of the surroundings. But I am always dreaming about my fantasy projects, so maybe next month it would be something different.

What do you want to do next?

I have other plans like creating a ready to wear collection featuring my prints. Let’s see what happens!


Take a look on Maria’s website for more artwork and products she maid! Also you can find her profile on Women Artists of the World website.


Presented by International Foundation for Women Artists