American Bottlecap Astronaut

[1] Finished Astronaut

For my upcycle project, I created a bottle cap astronaut with the aesthetic of vintage American patriotism. My vision for this project was to create an artistic or functional piece out of old bottle caps that embodied my chosen aesthetic, incorporating the colors red, white, and blue. My aesthetic, retro American patriotism, is embodied by the sentiment of patriotism within Americans throughout the 20th century. The aesthetic is characterized by the American flag, aspects of retro 70s, and the colors red, white, and blue. This patriotism was spurred by the United States fighting in wars, and making significant scientific advancements as a country, such as the moon landing. With this aesthetic in mind I began collecting materials and fabricating.

[2] Initial design sketch; [3] Bottle caps color coded; [4] Astronaut feet

I first made a preliminary sketch that let me get a general sense of the scale of the astronaut figure, and the flag. Sorting the bottle caps by color gave me a sense of how many caps to use for the flag and astronaut. Starting from the astronaut’s feet, I used a hot glue gun to attach every single bottle cap to the figure.

[5] Work station with with hot glue gun and pliers; [6] Bottoms of legs

In order to give a sleeker look to the limbs of the astronaut, I used pliers to bend the caps slightly so they could fit into one another and not show the inside of the bottle cap. I found a scrap piece of ply wood that I was going to use for a circular base, so I traced a circle in case I wanted a base and needed it to be cut. I was still unsure if I wanted to use a base plate, so I worked on the legs inside of the circle so I knew I was keeping the total figure to the size I wanted. I worked up the legs, hot gluing two caps on at a time. The legs ended up being 3 sets of caps long.

[7] Torso Lego structure; [8] Astronaut before arms and flag added

After the legs were completed, I realized my initial drawing where I had the bottle caps stacked in a single column would not be larger enough for the scale of the legs. I found 2 structural Lego pieces in the Idea Forge and glued them together which made a great size and shape for the torso. I hot glued white bottle caps all around the torso, and then connected the legs by gluing on the torso. I also found a clear window piece in the Idea Forge Lego bin which works very well for a helmet visor. I made the head separately by gluing four white bottle caps into a square shape around the clear Lego piece.  I added a backpack to the astronaut’s torso using 2 red bottle caps and 2 Lego pieces resembling piping or ventilation.

Next I bent more white bottle caps to construct the arms. The astronauts left arm is comprised of 3 pairs of bottle caps and the left arm is comprised of two pairs plus an extra white bottle cap bent to hold the flag post. Next I glued together 1 blue, 2 white, and three red bottle caps on a flat plane to resemble the American flag. I found a piece of scrap aluminum dowel in the machine shop that I cut down to 8.5 inches so it was slightly taller than the astronaut. I glued the flag to the dowel, and the dowl to the arm, which ended up balancing the entire figure really well.

[9] Final Finish Astronaut front; [9] Final Finished astronaut

The final astronaut stands on its own, and is equipped with a backpack and American flag. I am very pleased with how the final piece turned out. The piece surpassed my artistic goals, because it resembles an astronaut and looks sleek and professional. It accurately depicts my chosen aesthetic with its red, white, and blue colors, and it depicts an American astronaut, presumably on the moon, which was a shining moment in American patriotism in the 70s. The piece completed my functional goals, because I wanted it to stand up right on its own and look presentable enough to display in my room.

The piece will sit on a floating shelf in my room near my growing bottle cap collection, and one day maybe I’ll make him a friend! Overall I really enjoyed fabricating my project and I am very happy with how it turned out.

[11] Astronaut looking off into the distance in the Idea Forge

Previous Post
LED Googie Sign
Next Post
Upcycle Design Report: Surreal Symphony

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Duncan, this looks absolutely amazing! I loved how you used the different bottle cap colors to distinguish the different features on the astronaut. This is such a cool project for your chosen aesthetic and I think you portrayed it very well. Also how long did it take you to collect all of those bottlecaps?

    • Hi Kyle, thanks for reading my post and I’m glad you enjoy my project. I’ve been collecting those caps for almost two years now, however I only used about half my collection to make this project.

  • Jason Allshouse
    February 25, 2024 8:35 am

    Great work Duncan! This post caught my eye while scrolling through all of the posts for its originality and uniqueness. You did a great job making the astronaut and there is absolutely no second guessing what you are trying to achieve at first glance. I’d love to hear more about why you chose this aesthetic/ what inspired you, but overall great job!

    • Hi Jason, thanks for reading my post and for the praise on my project. I chose to work with this aesthetic primarily because of the colors of my bottle cap collection, which were mainly red, white, and blue. I also am very intrigued by the first moon landing so it was cool looking at all of the reference photos for the astronaut and the flag.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.