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   Undertoad  Saturday Dec 23 11:14 AM

December 23, 2006: Cap shed

It's just an ordinary shed. xoB send these along; I'm not sure he meant for them to be IotD, but I know you all will want to take a look at...

...this 'bottle cap monument' in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

The website Interesting Ideas presents this in higher quality. They say:

It's not the most expressive bit of folk art ever, but this decorated shed in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an example of the kind of vernacular creativity that comes at great effort but goes away quickly, almost casually. The vintage is 1950s. The fate is uncertain, but the barn is said to be out of compliance with zoning rules and will be demolished to make way for new construction. The bottle caps are attached to panels that could, in theory, be removed for reconstruction elsewhere.

Classification of art is an IotD thing; "what you can get away with" is a fine definition in some ways, I like the thought. Here is something not really intended as art, but if we want to look at it from that perspective, it gets interesting to me. So I'll get all wordy and intellectual... about bottle caps...

Did the person just go into the shed, drink, and put these up as he went along?

Did he close the door when he drank?

Are they all his own caps or did he use the caps of others? The fact that it's all here in this shed, suggests a lone drinker, not a social one. Is that sad, or is it just life? If the person found some level of joy doing this, do we have sort of a responsibility to think of the happiness of it?

Does my assumption of this as a male activity have merit to you? In my most P.C./feminist of moments, I can't imagine this being the work of a woman.

Is it not art because the person who did it, didn't think of it as art?

Lastly, a technical note. I always find it interesting when a picture doesn't get along with the JPEG format. These images were still massive at 800x600 pixels in high quality JPG. The many patterns and colors really push the format. Those who want better and bigger images, and who have the bandwidth, should see the higher-quality shots at Interesting Ideas, where they are presented in 1024x768 and higher quality.

wolf  Saturday Dec 23 11:30 AM

I guess he ran out of tinfoil.

I agree that this is a man's project, very much a "because it is there" thing.

Women throw bottle caps away.

The high res versions are incredible. those places with the gaps strike me as being very sad ... are they lost because they fell off, or because the "artist" died leaving behind that wee bit? I wonder about the order that they went onto the walls. Was there a pattern to the placements ... start in one corner and sweep out like paint spilling on the floor, or edges to center, center to edges, more random?

Would it be easier to consider art if the colors of caps made something, like a mosaic, rather than just caps stuck on the wall?

kisrael  Saturday Dec 23 11:39 AM

Unfortunately, I don't feel up to doing the back of the envelope calculations, but based on my life experience of how a neat, flat pile of stuff like coins and bottlecaps contains far more objects than you'd expect (I think we don't really grok the "square rule" very much as a species) I'd say there's a decent chance this was actually a social project, with a bunch of people saving caps for the one guy who was doing this, even if the destination was a kind of solitary place.

Or, maybe he had access to caps from a job? So not as social, but I don't think all those caps were the result of the consumption of one person alone.

The arts/crafts distinction is trickier in my mind than the art/pure crap one. Chop up the shed, put the panels on a wall in a museum, I'd definately call it art.

Undertoad  Saturday Dec 23 11:45 AM

Hmm... looking at the closest close-ups, I'm thinking about half were beer and half were soda.

robotshark  Saturday Dec 23 12:27 PM

The Interesting Ideas site also featured this work ("Featured in 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not'!")

richlevy  Saturday Dec 23 01:23 PM

Originally Posted by Undertoad
Hmm... looking at the closest close-ups, I'm thinking about half were beer and half were soda.
You're doing better than I am, I tried zooming in on some of those images and couldn't get any decent detail.

BTW, that Interesting Ideas site is interesting.

Can we do an IOTD on Sock Monkeys?

milkfish  Saturday Dec 23 02:59 PM

Looking at the inside of the door, I am thinking that one could make a pretty good suit of armor out of bottle caps. Maybe they could take these panels down and send them to Baghdad where they could be attached to the outside of trucks carrying troops.

Griff  Saturday Dec 23 03:56 PM

"The fate is uncertain, but the barn is said to be out of compliance with zoning rules and will be demolished to make way for new construction."

Hmmm... I'm guessing the barn pre-dates any local zoning nonsense. Sounds like a job for Institute for Justice.

SPUCK  Saturday Dec 23 04:33 PM

kisrael's got a good point. I bet the guy was a bar keep or something. Or was trying to block his conversations from the govment or aliens.. take your pick.

As for how many caps? As a engineer I must pick up the thrown down gauntlet.

From the doors 7 feet by 4 feet and estimating the depth as 4 doors deep or 16 feet. We have surfaces of:

two doors 4x7x(2) = 56sqft
back wall = doors - window 2x1.5= 53sqft
ceiling 8x16 = 128sqft
walls 7X16x(2) = 224sqft

Total Surface Area = 56+53+128+224 = 461sqft

Bottle caps on one half of a door: 26 high by 43 wide.
Because of the zigzag nature that means 25x43 caps = 1075caps

1075caps/4ft x 3.5ft (of half door) = 76.8caps/sqft

Drum roll please..

461sqft x 76.8caps/sqft = 35,398 caps

Now one "bottle per day" 35,398/365 = 97years worth of bottles. Or in today's numbers, at say $2.00 per bottle, $70,796 worth of bottles.

CaliforniaMama  Saturday Dec 23 05:10 PM

I think it could totally be the work of one person.

Remember the pull tabs on soda cans? The kind that came off? People made all kinds of things out of them. Long chains hanging everywhere.

The people that did that sort of thing picked up the tabs everywhere they went. I remember collecting tons of them and spending hours hooking them together.

Then there were the gum wrappers that were folded and put together to make chains and all kinds of things. People did the same with cigarette packs.

My guess is it was just a hobby to collect the bottle caps and this was a way of showing them off.

And yes, I think it is art, the same way any collection is!

CaliforniaMama  Saturday Dec 23 05:20 PM

Ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall
Ninety nine bottles of beer
You take one down
Pass it around
Nail the cap to the wall

CaliforniaMama  Saturday Dec 23 05:23 PM

Here's a more modern pop top can project:

CaliforniaMama  Saturday Dec 23 05:29 PM

The Bottle Cap Inn

Okay, I thought, it's got a catchy name, but no, it is fully decked out in bottle caps!!!

footfootfoot  Saturday Dec 23 09:02 PM

CustomG and I have a running joke about me making a bottle cap table, wait till she sees this.

Also, Flanders and Swann (elderly brits?) have a funny bit about covering the floor of your house with bottle caps nailed upside down in order to give one the sensation of walking on... bottle caps nailed upside down to the floor.

Finally, WRT the original image:

"...Every time I was unfaithful to you I put a bottle cap in this cigar box."
"There are only two caps in there, you were unfaithful twice?"
"No, whenever the cigar box got full I'd go intot he shed and nail them to the wall..."

Flint  Saturday Dec 23 09:19 PM

I've been wanting to make some "chain mail" from bottle caps...

(the closest I've ever gotten was a suit of armor made from 8 18-pack boxes)

Karenv  Sunday Dec 24 12:25 AM

Did you check out the bottle cap furniture and TV altar?

xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Dec 24 02:21 PM

Wow, that's bizarre, Karen....thanks.

Tuba Loons  Wednesday Dec 27 03:55 AM

Hello Cellar! Merry Xmas and thank you for the generous welcome on the dolphin thread. This is another one that I need to comment on. I started collecting bottlecaps many years ago when an artist acquaintance decided to make a collage. I lost track of him and he never harvested mine but he went on to make a bottlecap Jesus and Mary. It's a Flash site so he is dumb but click "more art" and "mosaics."

I, on the other hand, have ended up with a lawn/leaf bag full of bottlecaps (I likes my beer) and don't know what to do with them. Once I tried making t-shirt chainmail by wedging a modern pop-top behind the bottlecap (another old technique: cap, shirt, pop-top, finger crimp [usually done just once to wear as an emblem]) but it takes months to make progress. I got through a line of three across the front and gave up.

Do you want a jillion bottlecaps? Do you know any better ideas? Am I sick for owning this many bottle caps or just alcoholic? The bag is unliftable. Do me up the math on a 1x2x3' bag of caps by weight. Include all close-packing crystal approximations. How many is that? Hint: I can't lift it, it is in the 150+ lb. range. It is the size of a burly midget curled up in a steamer trunk or a baby manatee after eating buttered cabbage for three months.

Q baby  Wednesday Dec 27 06:16 PM

what, they couldn't do the floor on the shed?

bluecuracao  Wednesday Dec 27 06:57 PM

Originally Posted by Undertoad
It's just an ordinary shed.
It's a shed within a shed...

I wonder if it was built for the bottlecaps, or if it was pre-existing? Either way, it seems to make less sense to me than the actual caps nailed on.

Your reply here?

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