Bottle Cap Mosaic Fish No. 27, 2008

Bottle Cap Mosaic Fish No. 27, 2008
plywood, primer, Coca Cola, Becks and Harpoon bottle caps, recycled car body metal
12.5 " H x 44" W x 2.5" D

This mosaic fish is made from Coca Cola, Becks and Harpoon bottle caps. The plywood is primed with two layers of Kilz primer and can be hung outdoors (but the caps may fade if you hang it in direct sunlight). The fins and tale are cut from an old car, circa 1950s.

Bottle caps have long had a place in the folk art tradition as a decorative element. Usually, they are deployed more as a texture, willy nilly without sorting for color. My own bottle cap mosaics were initially inspired by  Haitian ritual flags, in which detailed images are realized entirely through the use of sequins. The first bottle cap pieces I did combined  bottle caps with vitreous glass tile.

Each cap is sorted by brand or color, washed, dried, punched, partially crimped and finally nailed in overlapping scales to create a feeling of depth, light and shadow. Decorative nail heads emulate the texture of seed beads often used to reinforce the sequins on flags. Even the smaller fish require hundreds of caps to complete.

The most amazing thing about these fish is the way they interact with light. When you look at one or two caps from any brand, they're generally not all that impressive. But when you group hundreds of them together and let them catch the sunlight,  they truly glow.  The combination of the background color with the logo can create color tones that are vibrant and lively and wholly unexpected.

What I like most about making the Bottle Cap mosaic fish is that the overlapping texture of the caps does such a good job of representing scales.

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