Bottle Cap Snook

Written by Ryan S.

Around 2 years ago, I built a bar for my lanai that doesn't get used nearly as often as it should. However, the one piece of the bar that continues to grow is the bottle cap collection. For whatever reason, I started collecting the caps off of every beer I drank at The Shore Bar and keeping them in cups. I've had a few fleeting ideas about what to do with them, but none really held my attention long enough to do anything about it. 

It came to pass that this weekend I was 10 miles offshore with a new friend looking for some new spots to load up on red and gag grouper when he happened to mention that he was getting ready to put together a tarpon out of bottle caps. Ding! That was exactly the idea I've been blindly hoping would materialize in front of me. I was a bit tired after the 12 hour fishing marathon that we endured that day, but I woke up the next morning and got right to work--after a large cup of coffee.  I claim no creative initiative, but hopefully if the thing turns out well, I can count myself among the ranks of the artists that have made exactly one neat looking piece of art post 6th grade art class. 

Day 1

Like most projects, I started out with vigorous zest. Instead of a tarpon, of which I am quite fond, I opted to recreate what I consider to be the quintessential Florida inshore game fish: the snook. I found a vector image of a snook, and used Illustrator to blow it up to about 44 inches long (about the size of a snook I hope to one day catch) by 25 inches tall. I printed it out over 10 pages, taped them together, and got to work sorting my roughly 1,000 bottle caps by color. This is where i hit my first snafu--I didn't have nearly as many silver bottle caps as I thought. It turns out that I drink a lot of beers with yellow/gold or blueish caps--not so much on the silver. While snook are not really silver, I wanted the lateral line (done with black bottle caps) to stand out--and against the blue, it just didn't. 

So here I sit. 1:30 on a Monday afternoon, drinking a Michelob Ultra by myself and typing about a topic I don't much understand, drinking a beer I normally don't care much for. I'm thinking I'll switch up to Coors Light after this, and then a Hornsby's Cider, followed by Sierra Nevada Summerfest. 4 beers I never really drink. However, the beer store had only so many silver capped beers. When I returned home from the liquor store, I needed 38 more silver caps to complete the snook. I managed 7 last night before the initial vigorous zest stalled. There's lots of work to do yet, but... the name of art, CHEERS!


Day 2

Silver caps complete! No, I didn't manage to drink 30 beers by myself in one day. I teamed up with actual artist Victoria Hubacz who helped me drink a number of beers and add some artistic touches and more detail to the fish. While there was a lot of bickering involved in the process, ultimately I conceded that my artistic integrity is very easily flouted on account of not really having any.

As the night progressed and the snook took form, I couldn't really help but notice I had a lot of red caps and plenty of extra gold/yellow. I got to thinking, if only there were a popular inshore red fish. Oh, right, the redfish! So back to the vector image, back to Illustrator, back to haphazardly taping papers together (remember, by then quite a few beers had been consumed... for art). An upper slot 27" Sciaenops ocellatus took shape, and I was equally thrilled by it as I was the first fish. I was particularly excited about finding a purpose for the light blue caps I had--just enough to round out the end of the tail. 

Now the drinking portion is done and it's time to hunker down and get some real work done. The next step is to cut these forms out of wood, and using a jigsaw while actively collecting bottle caps is generally a poor decision. On a related tangent; who has a jigsaw I could borrow?

beer + art = Bart?


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