Bottle Caps: Turning Pieces of Plastic into Modern Art

August 6th, 2013 by

Art isn’t exactly what it used to be.

Back in the day, it was all about painting and drawing and things of that nature; now, however, art has evolved its way into whole new genres like video  games, structured gardening, and apparently, even bottle caps. Randy Gilliland, a 52 year old man born in Warren, Ohio and currently living in Florida, now drives around in a 1995 Chevy Astro conversion van covered in thousands of bottle caps.

From afar, the van looks incredibly intriguing, and certainly makes the observer do a double-take. The designs that have been created with the help of the bottle caps give the van an odd, indescribable texture. It looks as though the multi-colored patterns have been painted on in big, circular blotches. Upon closer review, however, this popping texture becomes easily attributable to a wide variety of different colored bottle caps. Who would’ve thought that a hulking Chevy Astro conversion from ’95 would make such a great canvas for a form of art as unique as Gilliland’s?

The process of turning the Astro into a piece of mobile art first began in 2009, when Randy used some old bottle caps to form a peace sign on the hood of his car. From there, he slowly and steadily continued to flesh out his project for about eight months, until he was involved in an injury at work. He abandoned the project until just recently, when it suddenly gained attention all over the world for its incredible level of creativity. Now, Gilliland is continuing his masterpiece with the help of bottle caps being sent to him not just from the United States, but from overseas as well.

His artistic process is quite simple; he works out his designs on his living room floor, and when they are up to par with his standards, he carefully glues them on to the frame of his conversion van. Gilliland is not able to determine how many bottle caps make up his designs, but he has counted the amount of silicon tubes he has used as glue: 178. In regards to time, Gilliland was only able to state that he has dedicated, “countless hours,” to the project. Although it appears to spectators that the project is complete, Gilliland says he still has a ways to go. As with any other more, “conventional,” artist, he seems to view his art as something that is constantly in the process of being improved; a piece of work that continues to change with time, one might say.

One may assume that the designs would quickly fall apart in inclement weather, due to the fact that the only thing keeping it all together is some silicon. However, Gilliland says that maintaining his work is rather easy. “It’s actually pretty low maintenance,” he says. “It holds up pretty well except that the Florida sun tends to wash out or fade the colors some. But I’m actually pretty happy with it. And it runs good.” He also said that when bottle caps happen to fall off, he simply replaces them with new ones.

Motorists in his home town often stop him on the road so that they can take pictures with the van; it has become a sort of symbol of a new form of expression. According to Gilliland, he has even seen some people pass him by on the highway and then slow down to get a better look at his masterpiece. “I usually drive it pretty slow so when people go to pass me and they see what I’m driving they actually slow down so they can see it better,” Gilliland stated recently. “We haven’t caused any accident though, which is a good thing.”

*Photo by Tribune Chronicle.

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