Monday, January 18, 2010

Can't Get Enough Bottle Cap Art #2

In my previous post, I credited Mary Hettmansperger with my foray into designing with bottle caps.  But after a conversation with a facebook friend, I realized the seed was planted much sooner.  Sigrid asked me if I'd ever created with champagne or cava caps.  After admitting to my secret desire to obtain these caps (I don't drink enough champagne to build a stash) we agreed to a trade and a friendship has blossomed.  In our conversations, I remembered a piece submitted by a Bead and Button reader, Toni Trefethen, in the December 2006 issue.  She utilized Laura McCabe's bezel technique to create a stunning bracelet out of champagne caps.  From there I realized, that my original inspiration came from Laura's Expand Your Memory Necklace that was published in Bead and Button in April 2003.  That necklace was created with computer circuit boards as the cabochons.  I remember laying awake at night figuring out how I could use circuit boards.  With my husband, the engineer, and my father, the electrician, surely I could find and cut circuit boards.  Of course I never did, the cutting part was a hindrance and I was still very new to beading at the time.

Now we come back to Mary.  When I took Mary's class in 2008 all those buried inspirations began to surface.  It took awhile, though.  I was hampered by what I learned in class and was not thinking outside the box yet.  My failures to create a pendant I liked with wire, and my willingness to keep trying led to this design.  I came up with the brilliant (if I do say so myself) to treat the cap like a cabochon and bead around it.   Okay, now that I've traced my inspiration, maybe not so brilliant, let's say inspired.

With my first attempt,  I cut a 1 inch circle out of the top of the bottle cap with my circle cutter and poured resin on that.  That didn't create a uniform result for me.  I do have a couple and I'll probably create more for a smaller bracelet design.  The waste involved in the uneven results led me to do some some research.  I found that people flattened the caps for use in scrapbooks and other crafts.  Again, with some experimentation and a lucky find of a used die cut machine, I was able to flatten used caps effectively.  This created a reservoir for the resin, a slight dome for the beadwork, and protection for the image.  In my earlier pendants, I bent the edge of the cap all the way to the back, before adding the resin.  Since then, I realized that step was not necessary and I got a much smoother result if I left the edge upright.

I absolutely love the results.  Not only was I able to preserve a piece of graphic art, I elevated it into something wearable, eye catching and fashionable.  From that humble pendant, I'm now working on pieces that further test the design and, I hope, encourage people to consider the cap as something worth preserving.  These caps are every bit as stunning as a gemstone or crystal cabochon and well worth using in designs.

Once you start looking, and I spend way too much time at the store just looking at bottle tops, you'll discover many other unusual caps out there.  This pendant was made for a friend who collects Fleur Di Lis.  She discovered a wine bottle with this cap and it made a beautiful pendant.

In my next post, I'll show some of my non-beaded items.  I'm still experimenting on finding a design that men might enjoy.  I'll also share with you some incredible Etsy artists who have taken the bottle cap to new levels.


Marmalade Hills said...

Drooling over your bracelet! It is stunning!

jan Meng gourdphile said...


The bracelet is spectacular. I'm awestruck. Never has a cap been so divinely gussied up.

Ruthie said...

You do a fantastic job :)

Christine's Beadworks said...

Thanks so much. This was a labor of love.