Monday, October 8, 2012

A Repeat Performance

Today has not gone as planned. And get a recycled post. Sad, but true. However, be happy in knowing that it is one of my most popular posts ever.

Are you ready?? It's Bottlecap coasters!!!

How awesome are those? I mean really, come on. I love them. I made a set of four for each of my brothers and one for Owen. They seemed like pretty decent guy presents.

Having enough bottlecaps to make these and have such a varied number of brews is tricky, right? Well, I've had a serious stash of bottlecaps for years. And how did I come across such a wonderful collection, you ask? It's all about who you know. My younger brother attended one of the nation's universities most noted for their partying. Score. When bottlecaps started to get popular in scrapbooking about, oh seven years ago, I asked him to save them up for me. Thus, three large tackle boxes shoved full of caps from a whole lot of different beers. (I won't judge his roommates by the fact that there were Mike's Hard Lemonade and Zima caps in the mix.)

And so they sat in my scrap closet...for years...gathering dust...until I came across this gem on Pinterest. I found two problems with these. 1 - I don't buy stuff that I can make. That one is pretty obvious. 2 - Theirs are held together with steel wire. I wanted something with a base. So...I set out to devise my own system.

Here's what you'll need for my method :

1. Caulking gun
2. Silicone or construction adhesive
3. Acrylic sheets (found at any hardware store)
4. Acrylic knife
5. Adhesive felt pads
6. Bottlecaps (duh)

Now don't try and be all smart and think you can just use a craft knife. Nope. Doesn't work. Trust me - I tried it. Badness and cursing ensued. And I'm not talking X-Acto Knife. I'm talking one of these :

You might also want a cutting mat and a heavy duty (read: metal) ruler.

First peel the protective coating off of the acrylic sheets. These will most likely be on both sides. Then cut your sheets to get a nice pile of 4x4" squares. Don't worry about the edges being perfectly square...we'll fix that later. If you do worry about them being square, well then this project is going to take you a while. Good luck.

How artsy is this picture?
Now that you have your bases cut, it's time to pick out your bottlecaps. I highly advise washing these first so you don't have stinky and sticky beer residue to deal with. I put mine in the silverware rack of my dishwasher and blasted the crap out of them. Tada.

Pick out nine caps for each coaster. Line them up to figure out your configuration before you start to adhere them.

Now it's time for the messy and smelly part. Seriously. I nearly got high making these. Remember this tweet? Ya...I was working on these.

So, keep little hands out of the room and pull your hair back. Please don't wear nice clothes. You don't have to be prepared as if you were painting your ceiling, but don't be dumb and wear expensive jeans or your favorite t-shirt ever. Your hands will be covered in ickyness. (Yes, I'm making that a word.) Oh, and another tip. When you open your adhesive, make sure to puncture through to the back end of the tube (I shoved a wire hanger up through mine), otherwise your hands might just fall off from trying to squeeze the crap out of the tube.

You can technically start anywhere, but I like to glue down the center cap first and then work around it. Don't worry about being evenly spaced from your edges, but get it close.

Fill the cap with adhesive.
Now you can just smoosh it down on the acrylic at this point, but I found that I was getting some air bubbles underneath. So I took to flipping the cap over and wiping it against a spare piece of posterboard I had hanging around.
Now that the cap looks pretty and filled, squish it down onto the acrylic. You'll want to get it into position fairly quickly so that it doesn't get stuck in a weird spot. Continue to add the caps one at a time, with the sides touching. You should end up with something like this...

See that extra goo all over the place? If you used silicone, no big deal. It peels off with the use of a small tool (I used some broken dental instruments I had around the office). If you use adhesive...keep some Q-Tips (some wet, some dry) handy and remove the excess as you place each individual cap down. The adhesive is a bit more difficult to remove cleanly, but it does give a stronger hold for those of you with little hands that like to do some prying.

If you've filled each cap properly, the underside will look like this. it's time to get creative. In order to smooth my edges, I used my Brassler and lathe at the office. Basically, it's a Dremel. It worked pretty darned good. It also made a huge mess that I apparently left all over the floor for my assistant to clean up on Monday. Oops.

Now you'll have Coasters with lovely smooth edges.

Lastly, you'll need to put the felt pads on the bottom to keep them from roughing up tables. Just peel the backing and stick them down to match each corner cap. That way they're hidden from view and nicely balanced.

Let these babies air out for a while before you use them. Otherwise you'll be getting a buzz on top of your buzz. I'd say 3-5 days.

Also, a few other helpful tips. Beer bottles : good. Tumbler glasses : good. Wine glasses : BAD. OH SO BAD. I very nearly shot a wine glass off of one of these puppies over at Owen & Patti's house.

Additionally, if you used the silicone, the caps can come loose if the acrylic is flexed. Don't panic. Hold the offending cap in your hand for a few minutes to warm it up and then squish it back down nice and hard. (If your hands don't get warm enough, a drop of super glue will do the trick too.) Tada!

See...wasn't that fun? Now we have some manly coasters.

This post is part of a series on Creative Crafting. For the other posts, click here.


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