Monday, October 31, 2011


When we first moved here friends of ours had a wrought iron table and chairs cafe/bistro set made for their patio.  The table top was bottlecaps wired together and covered with glass, the seats and seat backs of the chairs were wired-together bottlecaps.  They are so very cool, hand made, recycled, and as a bonus, decently comfortable.  (they are not cheap, however).  I wanted one, but...for what ever OCD reason I decided from the get-go that if we bought a set it had to be from bottle caps that came from bottles we consumed.  I wanted a diet coke chair for me and a mosi chair for todd and fanta chairs for the kids.  (Not that we would ever in a million years allow them to drink THAT MUCH FANTA.)  Fast forward three years and hundreds of bottles later.  The guys who do bottlecap furniture are long-gone, the bottlecap collection was growing out of control and we happened to have had a visitor with an idea....Catherine?  are you owning up to this one?

We had two prime candidates for a bottlecap countertop project.  they were built by someone with minimal direction and zero supervision while we were in Seattle this summer.  they are functional, flanking the Super BBQ on the Super Q Patio -- one for prep and one for serving.  They are also Super U.G.L.Y.

The first task/obstacle was getting materials.  DYI has not really caught on here.  Why get your hands dirty when someone will do it for next to nothing.  The real cost of building or doing projects here is in the materials.  And the fact that you have to un-do someone else's work  9/10 and re-do it yourself (or do it twice, three times more to get it how you want it).   Well, we set out to the hardware stores with a vague idea of what we might need...thinset, grout and sealant.  What we came home with was...supafix, supafill  and slago dressing.  (Everything has a new and different name and it is usually in Afrikaans or has a trade name which is a total mystery to me.  It happens everywhere i.e. at the fabric store I wanted white heavy duty canvas?  Drill. Drill?  Yes, drill.) The guys at the hardware store thought I needed 3 bags of supafix when we needed 1/3, two boxes of supfil but we used maybe 1/8 of one box.  The slago dressing we have other uses for so the excess will not be wasted.

The project went in fits and starts.  Three years of enjoying diet coke out of an ice cold glass bottle was NOT ENOUGH TIME to collect enough bottle caps.  The coke factory here is making Coke Zero which I don't like and recently, they ran out of the normal bottle caps and everything is being printed on YELLOW bottlecaps.  Yellow? Not part of the "I-don't-really-have-a-plan" plan.

In the end the caps were procured from far and wide -- friends, cafes, bars, etc.  and the countrop was finished.  It was finished in the most dramatic fashion.  The fix was mixed and curing, dinner was on the table, we had BenAnna on hand to help, the kids were staying up late.... and it was starting to RAIN!  And not just sprinkle.  The night it was finished we had the storm to end all storms.  Thunder, lightning, down power lines arcing behind our house, the entire neighborhood flickering for an hour before finally blacking out. And instead of abandoning the project we foolishly finished it.  It is not a thing of beauty but it is memorable, meaningful and for as long as we're here it's mine.

The "holy-crap-I may actually be struck by lightening" pattern.  you like?  FREE FORM and frantic with six sets of hands pressing caps into soggy supafil.

There are funny little things about it I love.  The Lion lager cap that came back from Zimbabwe as part of a 6 pack from our friends' trip see Uncle Bob, the yellow caps from the Blue Moon, the Peroni from Italy (which a waiter once told me was "baloney" b/c of whole r/L plus ESL thing), the 'blanks' from Henry's yummy home brewing experiments, the gold ones which aren't stamped but we know are negra modello from the commesary, a few Fat Tires, and a few Coronas scattered in along with all the Mosi and Castle.  The kids know where 'their' grape fanta caps are.  They got them as a special treat the day before in hopes that a few more caps would push us over the top and we'd have enough.

After three+ years of bottlecap hoarding it's a tough habit to break, so maybe before too long we'll have enough to tile the other hideously ugly countertop. (above, supafixed but not supafilled or sealed)

The best surprise is that the countertop makes the absolute best sound when it's raining!


nana said...

How fun! I love it! Now I read that we have a BenAnna in our larger family, how grand. I hated being the only 'ana' person, now I
have company. And you still have lots of ThinSet left to do other
projects! Let the drinking begin!


Micah and Catherine said...

Love it. I think it looks great. You are welcome for infecting you with the idea :)