Going Deep with Bottle Cap Art

Warning: This post goes deep. Brace yourself.

The Challenge: To use dozens of bottle caps to make some sort of wall art.

My Inspiration: I don’t really remember my original intention, but for the last several years I’ve been asking my husband to save the bottle caps from his beer. I probably had seen some cool table top made of bottle caps and thought we could make one some day. It’s almost if my past self knew I would have a blog someday where I would make weird crafts and attempt projects way outside of my creative ability! Thank you past self!

Because we started this collection literally years ago, we have saved dozens of bottle caps that have been sitting in a drawer taking up space and creating a major choking hazard for our young child who would regularly find the caps and put them in his mouth. I decided something must be done with the caps and I endeavored to make some sort of wall art with them. I ambitiously thought that I could hang it over the counter in our laundry room and fill an empty wall space as a pseudo backsplash and an ode to beers gone by.

It’s been well documented thus far that I am not what you’d call an “artist”. I have attempted mimicry of other people’s art, but I haven’t done many original creations. This particular project challenged both my innate creative abilities and my threshold for physical pain. It also served as catalyst for a self-examining existential crisis. Let me explain..

 What I Need: 

  • Bottlecaps, many, sorted by color
  • Plywood
  • Paint, for the plywood
  • Hot glue gun
  • Craft glue (I’ll explain the need for 2 types of glue below.)

Who is Helping Me: My husband, who selflessly drank beer for years in order to provide me an ample amount of bottle caps.

Who is NOT Helping Me:  HOT GLUE and the 2nd degree burns that it caused! See below.

How I Did It:

  1.  I sorted the caps by color. I did this while pumping breastmilk. (I’ll give you all a fair warning that there will be at least one reference to pumping every week. It’s how I feed my son and I spend half my day doing it. I try to multitask while I pump as much as possible. I’m pumping right now, actually! So this is why I couldn’t take a picture of the sorting process without my leg in it.)Sorting.jpgIt should be noted that apparently my husband is a huge fan of New Belgium and Lakefront breweries. 50% of the caps were from these two breweries! Their caps are orange and black respectively and it somewhat limited my design. If only I were making a pumpkin face, I’d be set!
  2. Once the caps were sorted and I got an idea of how many caps I had of each color, I had to come up with a design. I googled a “bottle cap art” for inspiration and decided a half-circle, rainbow-like design would be best.

    Designing.jpg
    A toddler playing trucks all up in my biz is one small reason why this project is several days late. 
  3. Once I got the design set, I realized I should have painted the wood BEFORE I meticulously laid out each bottle cap. So, I removed all the caps and painted the wood dark blue and had to wait 24 hours for it to dry.  It’s an unfortunate oversight like this that will disqualify 1Thing/1Week from ever becoming the mega successful income generating aspirational blog I hoped it could be. I just don’t think things through well enough!
  4.  After the wood dried, I started gluing the caps down. I had seen on the internet that people used hot glue to adhere their bottle caps so I thought I’d give it a try. This was a terrible idea from the beginning. Either I’m extremely unskilled at using a hot glue gun (a definite possibility) or the combination of using superheated glue on an extremely conductive material was another classic unfortunate oversight, but I burned myself real bad about 15 caps into the process. I had to stop for the day. The pain was too severe and I didn’t want to risk burning myself even more. I literally burned every finger on my left hand and about half of my fingers on my right hand. This was the worst burn of all of them:burntthumb.jpgThis photo might also be the reason 1Thing/1Week is not the mega successful aspirational blog I hoped it would be… Professional Bloggers do not take photos of their thumbs with an open doorway in the background. Can I call this another unfortunate oversight? *eye roll* I know burned fingers from a glue gun are a crafters badge of honor, but I didn’t feel like testing the limits of my pain threshold any further. I will gladly forfeit this badge. I have kids to raise, floors to clean and texts to send — I need my fingers!
  5. I popped the large blisters and decided to try again the next day. I came up with the brilliant (read: naive, ill-advised) idea to cover my fingers with duct tape as a way to shield myself from the heat of the glue:Tapefingers.jpgWhile the tape did protect me from the heat, it also stripped me of my dexterity (and the layer of skin over my burns- OW!) so I removed the tape and promised myself I would be more careful this time and improve my technique. If you aren’t already laughing, you should be. I ended up burning myself even more severely than I did the day prior! Although this time I’ll save you the poorly-shot-in-an-open-door-frame photo evidence.

** Now we’ve reached the point when the self-examining existential crisis happens. In the midst of my throbbing pain, I declared to my husband: “I am quitting this project and I’ll just write about what a funny epic fail it was and give up!” The deep truth is, the blistering pain was only partially the reason why I wanted to give up on this project.

Dear readers, it’s been hard to reboot 1Thing/1Week this week. The stress of needing to be a decent (read: not constantly screaming and crying at my sons) mother, a not-fully-insane-only-mildly-complaining wife and a competent, dinner-on-the-table-every-night kind of homemaker has been overwhelming me. Pursuing the blog has felt selfish and extraneous this week. Failing miserably at the lynchpin of the craft (which would be actually making the craft..) has seemed like the final piece of evidence I needed to prove that I couldn’t be the mother, wife and blogger I wanted to be.

But then I thought about craft glue and the naive ambition this blog was founded on and realized this wasn’t the end. It’s not like me to quit at anything. For anyone who has known me for any length of time, they know that perseverance is one of my greatest strengths. My ability to dig deep and persevere through hardship is what has allowed me to run a marathon, rollerblade several marathons, run 2 triathlons, pump over 11,900.12 total ounces of breastmilk out my body over 1,497 sessions (that’s my running total for both boys with no end in sight), lose 80+ lbs, conquer post-partum depression, finish nursing school etc. It may seem like I’m bragging, and maybe I am a little, but blindly pushing through difficult tasks is what I do. It’s why I started this blog and it’s why I won’t give up yet. *cue dramatic, inspirational music* Giving up on a stupid bottle cap art project wasn’t the way I wanted to go out.  This blog is more to me than just a hobby or a place to write self-deprecating stories. It was a way for me to tap into my naive ambition when it felt like it had all but died after becoming a mom. Once I had my first son, I didn’t have the time or wherewithal for marathons or majestic accomplishments. I struggled some days to find the wherewithal to make it to Costco and back. Motherhood is definitely a difficult challenge requiring immense perseverance and strength, (did I mention pumping over 85 gallons of breast milk?) but it wasn’t the all-encompassing, all-satsifying challenge people make it out to be. Beneath my daily yoga pant wearing, ponytailed, no makeup exterior is still the marathon runner who feels like she needs to do more than just change diapers, wipe snots, wash floors and cook Skinnytaste recipes every day. I know this sentiment will probably make some mother’s stomachs turn and their hearts fill with rage toward me, but I know there are some moms out there who get it and feel the same way. I won’t abandon my children for crafts and blogging infamy, don’t worry. But I’ve resolved to keep trying to do something small and something challenging every week to keep the pre-motherhood me alive. I feel an intense need to defend myself more, but I wont. I’ll do what I’ve resolved to do: keep writing about how much I suck at crafts. And I will remember this very moment (seriously, it just happened!) when a little hand reached out mid-REM cycle sleep and unintentionally brought me an insane amount of comfort.

owenhand.jpg

So why did I also think of craft glue in the middle of my self-examining crisis? It turns out craft glue was the miraculous tool I needed in order to finish this week’s project without any more burns. It was also what I could have used from the beginning and spared myself all of this emotional and physical pain. Chalk it up to another “unfortunate oversight”. During nap time on Day 10 of this project, I found my blissfully room temperature craft glue and got to work gluing down the rest of the caps.

7. I splooged generous amounts of craft glue on the underside and side of each cap and finally finished this project.

glue.jpg
Testing the limits of the glue’s promise to “dry clear”

final

Would I Do It Again?/Final Thoughts: The project may be done, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly be done wrestling through these deep thoughts. For now, I will tuck this “art” away in the basement as a symbol of my crisis and not as an actual piece of art. I don’t love it enough to hang it up. I may give it to my own mom because she’s my mom and she is contractually obligated to love the things her kids make for her… also because I know she faithfully reads my blog and I can’t help but think about all the pre-motherhood stuff she had to selflessly give up for me. And maybe this crappy piece of “art” is a way to say “thanks” and “I understand what you’ve done for me” in a way a crappy Hallmark card can’t.

Okay, I promise I’ll go back to writing only self-deprecating recaps of my mildly successful projects and leave behind this sappy, deep stuff! Next week the only deep stuff I’m doing is deep cleaning tile. I wish I was joking.

3 thoughts on “Going Deep with Bottle Cap Art

  1. I find it humorous that you popped a blister with a needle! I think you have been picking up some if your husband’ s behaviors! Love your project, though!

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  2. Well your mom loved the post and your art project. I will gladly accept the gift. You had me joyfully tearing up with your funny lines, especially “the toddler all up in my biz” caption. I know you love your kids more than life itself and they will be all the better in knowing they have such a creative mom. (Crazy sentence, but I think you get the drift)

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  3. This made me cry.. probably because I’m right there with you in the trenches. I’ve always admired your perseverance, Linds! Keep it up!

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