Grief and Grandpa’s Bottle Cap Collection

My grandfather was the original tinker. Didn’t matter what the material. He thought up the wildest, craziest art ideas. On one particular occasion, my brother and I were board out of our minds at the family cottage (remember this was pre-tech days). My grandfather took a beer bottle out of the old baby blue fridge and giggled like a little toddler who had just done something real naughty. We stared. Then he ran to the kitchen and frantically rummaging through two giant containers. He came back to the kitchen table where we were sitting with a scrap paper, a pen, and a bottle cap. We were still staring, but now laughing at the spectacle.


He talked fast but sketched even quicker. He said three words: fence, wire, bottle caps. He then took the pen and suddenly stabbed it through the bottle cap, making both of us jump two feet high. He stared at us until we caught our breath. The idea was remarkably simple. He wanted us to take the bottle caps from the big containers, stab a hole in each, then thread the wire through to make a big long bottle cap fence. It was brilliant. We spent the entire week turning his idea into reality. He bought some cast iron staked and hammered them to the ground and gleefully hung each strand all around the cottage. He was so proud.

Last year he passed away, leaving us with a shed full of random materials to clean and purge. It was a bittersweet experience. Not only did I feel a wave of grief once inside his workroom, but I also found myself surrounded by a bounty of random objects like 100 antique keys, shelfs full of spray paint cans, resin bottles, drawers full of buttons, carved numbers, and stencils.

Then I spotted it, that bin, still filled with thousands of bottle caps. It took me back. I stood there with the biggest smile on my face, thinking crazy old man kept collecting his bottle caps.

I knew I had to use them to make something just as inspiring as he was. One night it hit me, a bottle cap table was going to be my tribute to him.

I set out to find the perfect table at a local thrift store.

Using his old tools, I carefully sanded the table down and set the bottle caps in a design that I knew would be a fitting tribute. It took weeks of sorting through the dusty old caps and place them in perfect order.

Once I had all them in place, I used pieces of my grandpa’s old window blinds to create an exterior barrier, then carefully poured a few bottles of his old resin on top.

It took a few days to dry, but the table turned out brilliantly. It is now the centerpiece of our family room, where I can forever be inspired by his crazy.

I’d love to hear how a loved one inspired you and sparked your creativity.

CA