Bottle Cap Art Car Project – Ready, Steady, Go!

This weekend we worked on a couple of big things — lots of lawn and garden work, and the beginnings of the art car.

Dunno if I’ve written much about the Art Car Project – it’s something Stephanie has been wanting to do for a long time, and now is a great opportunity for her to tackle it. She has a couple friends who have Art Cars, and in 2005, we visited Louisville, Kentucky for their annual Art Car Weekend:

"That Car!"

[ See the whole set of photos ]

We’re replacing Stephanie’s 1993 Honda Accord, which is her currently daily driver, with a new little Smart Car, which should arrive sometime here in April. The Honda is in pretty good shape, but just turned 200,000 miles and essentially has no trade-in value.

So it make sense for her to hold on to it and have some fun doing something creative. Stephanie toyed with several different design ideas, but finally arrived at an intersection of the art car she’s always wanted, and her childhood love of bottle caps. Her dad even dug her original collection out of the garage attic and brought them to us.

We’ve been collecting and sorting bottle caps all winter long, with the help of friends and the nice folks at the restaurant Ralph’s Great Divide, who have contributed many of the caps.

Stephanie prepped and adhered the first 70 caps to the car. This was basically a test run to see if the adhesive works and if the caps stay on; so far, so good. They stayed overnight an were still there this morning.

70 down, 12,000 to go.

[ See the whole set of photos ]

Since they seem to be holding up quite well, we’re getting ready to scale up production; I’ll prepare the caps with Rustoleum, while Stephanie uses a high temperature glue to secure them in place.

We also did a ton of raking (our leaves come down in mid-December, so we never got them completely raked last year), bought 20 bags of mulch and started spreading it in the front flower beds, and mowed the lawn for the first time. We did a lot of physical work this weekend, it was very nice out and felt good.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jose

    What is the adhesive (“glue”) being used to adhere the bottle caps to the car? Other than cleaning the car surface, any special preparation? Any “tricks” to adhering the bottle caps?? Not much surface to the caps, are they being filled, then adhered??
    Jose (Lincoln, NE)

  2. Steph Mineart

    We’re using 100% silicone caulk – just like you’d use to seal your doors and windows. It’s amazingly strong, but doesn’t get brittle, so it has some give and take in different weather conditions – like it would on your house, in fact. It seems to be the product of choice for art cars – everyone we’ve talked to uses it or a product called E-6000.
    E-6000 makes a really strong bonding agent, but it’s really expensive, though, so art car artists only buy it to adhere really large things to their cars. Caulk is reasonably priced, so it’s used more often.
    We’re not filing off the edges at all. Just putting a ring of silicone on the car and pressing the cap into it. The caulk binds the inside edge of the cap as well as the outside, so it’s actually adhering to a decent sized surface area. The only ones we’ve had pop off were near hinges where we didn’t placed them too close to the seam.

  3. Jose (Lincoln, NE)

    Thanks for the information… very helpful. I’ve started a similar project and am wanting to minimize “trial and error.”
    Your advice is on target .

  4. nico morris

    I have been an art car artist for
    30 years.
    Its so quaint to see you folks going through(again) what we were doing
    back in the 60’s.
    Since than I have worked as an auto body painter, and a tile setter.
    Back then we used epoxy mastics
    I have a lot of insights for you that
    would help you not make some of the mistakes we made when I worked with David best, and Larry Fuente on the first art cars, I’m begining work on
    a couple new art cars in Sonoma County
    In California after 20 years rest.
    check me for suggestions!
    I also have materials ( a ton of bottle caps etc.)

  5. Christine Wilson

    I just stumbled across your post and I love your project. I have a bottle cap obsession of my own, but have never attempted anything of this scale. Do you have a follow-up post on this story and do you still have the car?

  6. Stephanie

    Christine, you can find more photos at Steph’s Flickr page. We took the car to the Kentucky Art Car Weekend in 2008 and people enjoyed it. In November 2008, I gave the car to my niece, who is still driving it in northern Indiana. Unfortunately, the caps have started to rust, but it still looks pretty cool and I’m really glad we did the project.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.