Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Plastic Bottle Cap Madness, and a Bit About the Ocean

Part of what artists do is to see things from a different perspective, and then to help other people see things differently, too.

This bottle cap thing started out innocently enough. I started saving them because you couldn't recycle them curbside - even though we have a wonderful curbside recycling program here in Portland, Oregon. And they were interesting. It seemed like they had potential. Like they might make interesting jewelry . . . after all, they kind of looked like giant bezels . . . and so I made a couple of little necklaces.

And then, last fall, I started asking people to save bottle caps for me. My boyfriend. His dad. My best friend. And then I started washing them, so that I'd have clean ones to work with. I washed them in the washing machine. In lingerie bags.



I started hoarding them. I had a milk crate overflowing with plastic bottle caps when I finally hooked up with Leave No Plastic Behind , a local non-profit who was looking for artists. I told them about my hoard of plastics that couldn't be curbside recycled, and said that I was wanting to do some kind of art project with them.


This was a few weeks ago. And they said, "Sure! We need a big installation for an event coming up April 21st! Wanna do something for it?" And I said, "Sure!"



So, that's why, if you follow me on Twitter, my posts have been full of my tales of plastic bottle cap hunting and gathering, washing, and drilling. This weekend, I finally figured out a good way of connecting them - which, sadly, did not end up involving either dental floss or chicken wire.


Then I re-drilled a bunch of the bottle caps. And began connecting them. Tonight, I made it over to Keen headquarters and installed the piece - which felt sort of like a big "test run."

It was for an event co-sponsored by the Surfrider Organization, and featuring speakers from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation - those are the folks who made a raft out of plastic bottles and drifted from California to Hawaii, all the while studying the plastic debris that's building up in the ocean. Now, they're biking from Canada to Mexico spreading the news. Here's a great article that talks about Algalita's work. For example, I had no idea that fish at the bottom of the marine food chain were eating plastic.



And I had no idea that plastic bottle caps are one of the top ten items found during beach cleanups, and are second only to cigarette butts in terms of general litter. Which, frankly, just makes them all the more appealing as an art material. So, now I'm looking to make the piece even bigger for another exhibit in June - got any plastic bottle caps?

(yes, yes, I'll have pictures of the installation for you tomorrow).

13 comments:

gl. said...

i'll start saving them for you, too. if you ever reach a breaking point, you can recycle bottle caps at the "master recycling roundup" that happens from time to time.

Michael5000 said...

So interesting! And the pictures are so... pretty!

So -- you really want us to save plastic bottle caps for you? Even if you don't see them for months to come?

MB Shaw said...

I can't wait to see your installation! This issue of plastic caps is crazy, isn't it? I have been saving them too and did a piece with them :-) like minds, huh?

sandrabao said...

How funny. I live in Portland OR also and was googling what creative things to do with my saved bottle caps. How can I get them to you?

sandrabao said...

I live in Portland and have bottle caps - how to get them to you?

nimcraft said...

oh! do you have pictures yet? love to see how it came out!

Bridget B. said...

Howdy, folks! And thank you for all the bottle cap love - if you live in the PDX area, and want to join in the fun and save me bottle caps, just drop me an e-mail at sparky at eyesaflame dot com and I will make arrangements to pick them up from you. Or, if you live outside of Portland, I can reimburse you for postage! I really do want your plastic bottle caps!

fingerstothebone said...

I can't wait to see the installation (or photo). I'll start saving them for you too. But I just about never see the pretty color ones...all the ones I get are white. I've been saving the pull tabs from the inside of the soy cartons, they have a ring and a solid disk attached to each other. They're white too. They're just the right size to slip around a finger though. How about those prescription pill bottles? They're orange, and I have lots of those...

Chance said...

This is the coolest thing ever. And also, horrifying due to what it reminds one of.

T J said...

I'm not sure how I ended up on this blog entry just now, but I'm sure to go look for the next post with the picture.

I went on a river clean-up service project with my 5th grade son about 10 days ago. The most abundant item of trash my little group collected was styrofoam (such as packing peanuts) but a close second was plastic bottle caps. So yeah, I'm not surprised they're so common on beaches. We can't recycle lids in my town either, but there is a beauty salon downtown that collects them supposedly for recycling into shampoo bottles (by Aveda, maybe?).

Green Designs by Lisa said...

Hi! Have you heard of freecycle.org? I make purses out of coffee bags and I get most of my bags from freecycle members who save them for me on a regular basis! You post what you are looking for.. btw, that chandelier is really cool!!

Earthchild said...

I love this! I teach kindergarten and we began a collection of plastic bottle caps this year. It was part of our school efforts to "Go Green". We got thousands of bottle caps and we created a gorgeous kindergarten mural from the caps! We have lots of left over caps and I want to expand it to create garden art! We are going to make a bird house, a bird bath, stepping stones, and garden art! If you have any more ideas, email me at anapple4thetchr@yahoo.com

Bridget B. said...

Earthchild, it sounds like you've got it down! There are some awesome projects out there!

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