Kelly O makes sustainable accessories from old plastic bags

Why did you choose to be an artist/designer?

I’ve always been creative – even as a child I couldn’t sit in front of the tv without a project in hand.

What medium do you work in?

I upcycled plastic bags, turning them into everyday accessories.

What's your background, have you always been an artist/designer?

I studied Architecture and still practice as an Architect part time. I began to be interested in re-using waste products in new functional ways at University and the idea has developed from there.

How has your practice changed over time?

I initially used the upcycling technique to create the things I wanted – my own personal accessories, then I started giving them as gifts, then I went overboard with product types, and I’ve now honed this quite a lot and am looking to make products that really celebrate and benefit from the unique nature of the upcycled plastic.

How and when did you started creating?

I started experimenting with plastic bag fusion in 2009 when I found an online tutorial showing the process. A friend of mine suggested I could make bags similar to Freitag with the material, and off I went.

How would you describe your creations?

Up-cycled accessories made from plastic bags – visible, functional sustainability.

What inspires you?

The state of our oceans – every news story brings more heartbreak about the animals affected by our plastic pollution. I like to believe that every bag I save and up-cycle makes a difference, even if it is very small.

Where do you show / sell your art?

I have an online shop: and I sell items in Hatch Glasgow, the Scottish Design Exchange Glasgow, the Leith Collective, and Ginger Twist Studio. I participate in markets both in person and online where I usually run a discount or special offer.

Do you think art can have an impact in the local community?

Absolutely! Good design and beauty should be a much bigger part of our everyday lives. Cheap consumerism has won out over this principle, but it can still be found if you search for it. I live in the Abbeyhill Colonies and the group that runs the Colony of Artist festival has started painting murals on shop fronts and blank walls around the community – it is so uplifting to see them. It gives me a real sense of pride in my community and where there’s pride, there’s better wellbeing, support, and sense of belonging.

Who are your biggest influences?

The upcycling businesses that have made it big and help to make upcycling a household name, like Freitag and more recently Wyatt and Jack. I’m also inspired by women who run successful businesses and set their own priorities and principals.

Which current art do you think is having an impact in the world right now?

Video seems to be taking the world by storm – and with things like Instagram Reel it allows everyone to be an artist.

What difference has working with SDX made to your business?

SDX allows my products to reach a much wider audience that I would manage on my own.

Thank you to Kelly for participating in our blog

Shop her designs on her website.