Upcycle Final Report: Bottle Caps

Introduction/Vision

When I started this project, I didn’t have a clear idea of what exactly I wanted to accomplish. I knew that I would be using bottle caps, but that didn’t give me any discernable direction or guidelines for moving forward. It took quite a bit of searching, and discussing, to finally come up with a project that I was excited to take on. That idea was to create a bottle out of the bottle caps. This idea came from a discussion I had with Ben Chang. With this in mind, I was able to come up with a vision for what I would like to accomplish. The biggest part of my vision was that I wanted the final product to, more or less, resemble a bottle. It might not look exactly like one, due to the size/shape of the bottle caps and my own artistic shortcomings, but for the most part I wanted people to think “Yeah, that’s a bottle” when they saw it.

Materials

Luckily, my project only required two materials: bottle caps and hot glue. The other materials listed below were more for support of the project. I include “good music” and “lots of patience” because they really did make a difference in my fabrication process. This project was completed in one sitting, which took roughly two hours. It takes a lot of patience to sit for two hours and glue almost 100 bottle caps together. And it doesn’t hurt to have some background noise of your choice to help keep your spirits up when you’re getting tired.

  • Bottle caps
  • Hot glue
  • Parchment paper (to protect my work surface)
  • Good music
  • Lots of patience

Design/Fabrication Process

At the beginning of my design process, I thought very seriously about the size and shape of the bottle I would be making. Since there are numerous types of bottles that could be emulated, it was important to try and narrow down my choices to give my design the necessary focus. I decided on using a beer bottle to get the first set of dimensions that would guide my fabrication.

After comparing the size of the bottle to the size and shape of the bottle caps, I realized that I would need to scale up the bottle in order to achieve the desired curvature and shape.

My next step was to actually begin fabricating. I had three main sections that I would be completing: the base, the body, and the neck of the bottle. The base was relatively simple to create. Using seven bottle caps in a roughly circular shape, I was able to create the foundation for the rest of the bottle. I realized quickly that the bottle caps would need to be glued on both sides in order to maintain the structural integrity that I wanted. Otherwise, they would have easily come apart when not sitting flat against the table.

As I started the body of the bottle, I realized how much more difficult fabrication was about to become. Gluing on a flat surface was one thing, gluing something into place vertically took a lot more precision and tact. I had to make six rows of about ten bottle caps, each resting on the layer below it. I built one row at a time. I glued the bottle caps in place from the inside of the bottle, then reinforced it on the outside of the bottle once it was more securely held in place.

The last section to be fabricated was the neck of the bottle. This was supposed to include the curvature that usually connects the two straight vertical sections. However, I was unable to place the bottle caps securely enough to allow the desired curvature while also supporting the neck. After a number of attempts, I decided to cut my losses and make a flat top to build the neck up from. To do this, I created a second base shape, made of seven bottle caps, and glued that in place. From there, the neck, which was made of four layers of three bottle caps, was glued in the center. I ended up making the neck as a separate piece that was later attached to the structure. I did this because I found it nearly impossible to glue three bottle caps together without a lot of manipulation. If I had built up from the top of the bottle from the start, I don’t think it would have turned out as good as it did.

Final Product

Below is the final product that I was able to create. I used almost 100 bottle caps (No I did not keep count, and I am not going to go back and count after the fact), and almost a dozen hot glue sticks, to make this possible. In the end, I’m happy with my final product. Is it perfect? No. But what fun would it be if it was perfect after the first attempt. The important thing is that I was able to do. I went from no idea, to some idea, to something I can hold in my hands and say “look at what I made!”. Which I think is pretty cool.

Functional and Artistic Goals

I didn’t have any functional goals for this project. I intended from the beginning for it to be purely artistic in it’s creation. So in that respect, I accomplished my goal.

My artistic goals were accomplished, for the most part. Of course, there is always room for improvement and iteration, but I think that I was able to create a product that, more or less, resembled a bottle.

What’s Next?

Although I am proud of the work that I was able to accomplish with this project, there are still some things that I would like to improve upon. Whether this means making a new bottle from scratch, or disassembling the current bottle and making improvement, it would be nice to be able to fulfill 100% of my vision. Or as some students in class have suggested, just keep making more of these until I have an entire collection.

Presentation

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Mary Rahjes
    Christopher Lehr
    February 17, 2020 11:17 am

    I love that you came so close to running out of bottle caps. I would definitely say that a massive scale of this is something you could accomplish, and also if you need bottle caps I can always help supply.

    Reply
  • Mary Rahjes
    Davis Robertson
    February 16, 2020 9:05 pm

    Mary,
    Did you consider using some sort of mold for the bottle caps so you didn’t have to build it up so incrementally?
    Did you consider any other means of securing the bottle caps together so you wouldn’t have to use so much hot glue?

    Reply
  • Mary Rahjes
    miles radakovitz
    February 12, 2020 7:58 pm

    What dissuaded you from gluing them on a bottle to create the same effect?
    It would have been funny if you could have made a bottle cap out of a bottle.

    Reply
  • Mary Rahjes
    Bella Colosimo
    February 12, 2020 7:21 pm

    – What are you going to do with it now?
    – What would you have changed with the process? Would you have started earlier?
    – Good news: glue sticks are like $1
    – Do you think you’ll continue to work on it?

    Reply
  • I really enjoyed Mary’s use of graphics, they added value to her oral presentation. I also liked how she incorporated her lightheartedness to the presentation, this made it engaging and fun to be a part of. Additionally I think Mary had a good balance of eye contact and slide referencing.

    Reply
  • Mary Rahjes
    Justin Engbrecht
    February 12, 2020 12:40 pm

    As a live critique I asked the neutral question: “Did you intentionally incorporate and bending or deformation of bottle caps within your design?” and Mary responded that she did not intentionally bend or deform any of the bottle caps, but some of them were naturally bent or slightly deformed when sourced.

    Reply
  • The irony here is great, it reminds me of other recycled sculptures. It reminds me of when I had my own collection of bottle caps and would make tiny sculptures out of them. I feel like the hot glue takes away from the aesthetic, it oozes over everything. Obviously for a project of this scale hot glue is convenient and inexpensive, but I wonder if a different material could be used.

    Reply
  • Mary –

    I like your choice of re-purposed material – bottle caps, as I have a beer bottle cap collection, myself. The final product looks quite aesthetic and has character. For the presentation itself, I like your energy and your overview on the design process. Do you think you’ll continue onto this collection? I could see it becoming even more aesthetic and complete with more layers on top of the already present layer of bottle caps over the bottle. Was there any other type of adhesive that you considered or possible wanted to do as oppose to hot glue?

    Thanks for your hard work and sound design process.

    Will

    Reply
  • Mary, I really appreciate how your project is made from only repurposed material. Bottle caps are so often thrown away, and I don’t believe they can be recycled. I really appreciate this as a method of not only keeping material out of the landfill, but experimenting with some creative processes. One thing that I think could be improved for the project would be to create a frame or base for the structure. Having something to hold all the pieces together as you work could have potentially made the process run more smooth. How long did this take you? What purpose do you think this will serve in your life? Will you use it for decoration? Will you make any additional improvements? Great work on this project and I’m looking forward to seeing your work in the rest of the semester!

    Reply
  • Did you pay attention to which bottle caps went where? Like making sure that two similar caps weren’t right next to each other? Did you use all of your bottle caps?

    Reply

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