Friday, January 8, 2010

Can't Get Enough Bottle Cap Art

According to Wikipedia,  the modern crown bottle cap was patented in 1892.  While plain caps are prevalent, the iconic images are what captured my interest.  Bottle caps provide a unique form of advertising and I love how I've been able to preserve that into something beautiful and wearable.  Bottle caps have been used in crafts almost from the time of their invention and I'm honored to include my designs in the mix.

My love affair with the bottle cap began in a class by Mary Hettmansperger.  In her book, Wrap, Stitch, Fold and Rivet: Making Designer Metal Jewelry, Mary shows how to use a bottle cap as a form for wire weaving.   For her project, the condition of the cap is not important, the rustier the better.  Holes are punched into the ridge of the cap and wires are poked through to create spokes.  These are later hidden by an object placed in the cup which is held in place by bending the cap edges over.  This was the pendant I created from that class.  The front is layered with a Chinese coin, a washer, a button, waxed linen thread and a couple of stone beads.

After weaving the wire around the spokes, the spokes are hammered and bent to the back of the pendant.  You can see here, I've hidden the bottom of the spokes with a Canadian coin and crimped the bottle cap edge over to keep it all together.  Instead of a coin, I could have riveted something from front to back and created a double sided pendant.  What also works very well is to cut a 1 inch disc from sheet metal and dome it.  The doming, for me, helps to achieve a better crimp.  But a quarter works very well.

I had several caps at home that I wanted to preserve.  The images were too nice to cover up.  I created several like the one in my first fan page giveaway, using Oberon, Coke, and these caps from a Wisconsin soda company.  These pendants looked better with the spiral edge, but that made them somewhat too large for a pendant (although I still wear mine as one).  I made these as ornaments and gave them away during the holidays.  I started experimenting with resin when I created an ornament from a Guinness bottle cap.  The image keep scratching and I wanted to preserve it as best I could.  I failed pretty miserably creating this design and using resin.  I couldn't pour it after I drilled the holes and drilling the holes after pouring the resin didn't create a nice look.  The resulting failure, led me to my beaded caps.  This was a good lesson for me.  I don't like wasting material, so I don't experiment enough.  You can't design, if you don't experiment and aren't willing to start over.   

In my next post, I'll discuss my original designs resulting from Mary sparking my interest in bottle caps, my desire to play with resin, and my need to preserve the delicate image on the bottle caps.

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