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Upcycled Plastic Bottle Cap Art

by Tania Willis

Not only is the 'Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.' initiative Earth-friendly, it's also KidART friendly! There are so many crafts you can make with children using recyclables, but today I'd like to focus on the use of plastic bottle caps to create a form of mosaic art.

Butterfly Bottle Cap Art Mosaic

The materials involved for this month's craft project are quite simple but will have you heading to your local home improvement or hardware store. You'll need a piece of plywood at least 18" square. Be sure to find one that isn't knotted up too much. You'll also need sandpaper, a couple ¾" screws, and E-6000 or a hot glue gun. If you don't have the means to cut the board yourself, most hardware stores will make the first two cuts for you free of charge or for a very nominal fee. Here's how:

First, you'll want to smooth any rough spots on the surface of your plywood using sandpaper, and then wipe the dust off with an old cloth. Seal the front surface of the plywood with two coats of white paint before starting your project. You can use primer or acrylic craft paint with a foam craft brush and allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.

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Once the paint is dry, you need to make a rough sketch of the design you want to create using light pencil markings.

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Paint the sketched butterfly using two coats of acrylic craft paint. The paint job doesn't have to be perfect as it is only meant to add a pop of color in the spaces that peek through between the bottle caps. Paint the remaining background area, as well.

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After the paint is dry, start filling in the spaces with bottle caps to create your butterfly mosaic. Once you have an arrangement that you're pleased with, adhere the bottle caps one by one to the plywood using E-6000 (in a well ventilated area) or a hot-glue gun.

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As you can see, many bottle caps come with printing on the underside of the label, or the underside is grey or light blue even though the cap may a completely different color.

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Fiskars Kid's Car Circle Punch creates the perfect sized circles for the inside of the caps coming from plastic water and soda bottles. Just punch circles from cardstock or cardstock-weight patterned paper and stick to the inside of the cap using ultra-thin glue dots.

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This detail shot shows you the dramatic visual change that can be made to your art piece just by adding a small punched circle insert. The larger caps, usually from sports drink bottles, work well with the Gearin' Up Squeeze Punch.

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To create the butterfly's eyes, you should pre-drill the screw holes using the kid-friendly Hand Drill. Once you have a pilot hole drilled, it will be quite simple to screw the wood screws in using a Phillips head screwdriver.

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Finish the additional face details using buttons, brads, or self-adhesive rhinestone gems.

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