Recycling Bottle Caps Into Signage
is is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of Proforma Simonetta Freelance, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy (see proformagreen.com). John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.
Alan is an artist based in DFW and the founder of BottleCapArtWork.com. The company uses used bottle caps to created one of a kind corporate signage and objets d’art for clients.
Alan’s creations are a great idea for any company whose product uses a bottle cap – here I am thinking brewers of every size and style – and for restaurants and bars looking for unique storefront and point-of-purchase signage. For more information visit www.BottleCapArtWork.com.
ALAN HARRIS, FOUNDER BOTTLECAPARTWORK.COM: My endeavors with bottle caps started in college, mostly on a whim. It’s easy to throw away a bottle cap; they are so small and seem inconsequential. But even all those years ago, I recognized in bottle caps their capacity to be a brilliantly colored part of a larger whole. Some friends and I had been saving our bottle caps for awhile (mostly beer), and I began to experiment with patterns and colors on a large scale on a flat surface. I was a sophomore in college at Baylor University when I had my own delusions about making a “bottle cap table”. Unlike many of my counterparts, though, I actually had the time, energy and audacity to follow through with my ideas.
QUESTION: Where do you get the caps from?
HARRIS: All the caps I use are gathered. They are all used caps. I’ve met several people in the past few years who have their own collection of bottle caps. I actually have taken on other people’s collections to add to my own, collecting as much raw material as possible. To date our studio has turned over 10,000 bottle caps into 8 different pieces in various stages of completion.
QUESTION: What was building that first project like?
HARRIS: I had the 4-foot round Formica table top to build it on as a base. It was ugly as sin, but it was perfect for bottle capping. I sketched out a star in the middle of the table and immediately began to lay down bottle caps. I used tin snips to cut the caps around the star, and drew out where I wanted different colored caps. It took nine months to glue down all the caps with a hot glue gun. Most of the delay was because I needed Smirnoff Ice caps to finish the red background in the center. Getting caps became a problem – I couldn’t pay people to drink that stuff. Anyway, when the piece was finally completed, I grouted it, and added the aluminum trim around the edge and applied a glass for the top, and that was how it remained for the next couple of years until I finally found the product I wanted to use to cover it with. I used an Epoxy resin (mix and pour, dries in 72 hours) to seal the piece in 2006.
QUESTION: What was your first commission?
HARRIS: When my friend opened a new bar – Jack’s Backyard in Dallas – late in 2008, I made a sign as a gift for the bar; it is hanging up there now. It got so much attention that I made them a Texas Flag as well. There is a picture of the Jack’s Backyard sign on the homepage, and it also has its own page in the online portfolio.
QUESTION: What is the process like today? What are the time frames?
HARRIS: Time to complete a work is based on complexity and size. I can hammer out something that is not too complex in a few weeks if I work at it a lot. There are a lot of steps to it, and you have to wait several days to dry. Some of the pieces I have done have taken me several months. If a client has an image they want me to create, they normally email me and we start the process that way. The main thing is that it has to be pretty simple. Bottle caps are like the pixels on the old Atari games, you don’t get the fine focus of a PS3.
QUESTION: What about cost?
HARRIS: These are one of a kind, made from my hands, art pieces. Pricing is based on time and materials plus complexity of design. Most signs will run from $900 – $1800.
QUESTION: What do you think your art says about or to the larger environmental movement? Do you identify your work as eco-friendly?
HARRIS: I did not set out to do something that was environmentally friendly, but I have recycled thousands of bottle caps into works of art that will hopefully one day be cherished by someone. I think it says a lot that I’ve taken basically trash and turned it into works that people stare at in awe. Did you every think that trash could be so vibrant, shiny, and colorful? I’ve recently been talking to someone about doing a very large piece (15,000 bottle caps). That’s a pretty big dent. I don’t think I’m gonna save the world with this, but yes, I feel I am doing my part.