This is my most recent work of art, which has been a few years in the making. After I began experimenting with using fabric in my paintings, I thought it would be interesting to take it a step further and use non fabric material to create a dress. After thinking about what I could use it dawned upon me that bottle caps would create an interesting texture and design.
I liked the idea of exploring the concept, “you are what you eat”. Living in Athens for five years I often saw people in not so great states of mind. In between downtown Athens, football games, frat parties, and college life in general, it’s not difficult to find someone falling over themselves walking down the street. They might as well be wearing a big sign saying they were drinking that night. You can often tell what is going on inside of a person based on their exterior emotions and actions, similar to knowing their taste based on what they wear. So why not wear what you eat, drink, feel?
Once I had my concept ready I started collecting bottle caps from friends, family, and local restaurants. After three or four years collecting and procrastinating I finally sat down and got to work. Luckily I have a very handy husband who constructed three canvas like wood panels, each 24″x48″. I knew if I attempted to put the combined weight of all the bottle caps on something as flexible as canvas it wouldn’t work too well, and the wood panels were a perfect alternative. I painted a gesso base on the panels, then began sketching.
After I had everything measured, which was very important for this since I had to construct a bar and needed it to remain uniform across three panels, I painted a layer of oil paint on the top section for the background. After I layered paint I melted modeling impasto, using a griddle and pan, dripped it over the paint, then spread it out using a heat gun. I added another layer of paint, and fused it using the heat gun. I continued this process until I was satisfied with the look and texture.
Once I completed the background I added image transfers of the lights, glasses, and bottles. I used images printed from a laser printer, heated the area I wanted them on, let it cool slightly, placed the image face down, burnished the back, then rubbed the paper off using water. To read more about this process visit the Mixed Media Art: Caged post.
After the background I moved onto the girl. I painted her using oil paint, and I focused on trying to make her look somewhat sad, a little haggard, looking directly at the viewer. I wanted this look because I doubt I have ever seen someone falling over themselves after drinking and still looking happy and put together.
After painting the girl I began putting together the bar. I wanted it to be three dimensional, so I built up sections of mat board. I drew the bar out first, and figured out how to layer each section, what needed to be the lowest and highest point. This was critical before I started to help me save on supplies from mistakes. I used hot glue to attach the layers of mat board, then painted it brown with oil paint.
I knew I needed a base to attach the bottle caps to, so I decided to use my traditional technique of hot gluing fabric, creating a lot of texture using folds. I attached the bottle caps to the fabric by bending the bottle caps around the folds and filling the back of the bottle cap with hot glue.
I wanted the bodice to stand out from the bottom of the dress, so I decided to create a fish scale look by cutting the bottle caps and overlapping them. I was actually able to cut the bottle caps with scissors, but wire cutters would work best. I cut the caps in half and in quarters, and hot glued the tips of the caps to the fabric.
I was very happy with the outcome of this mixed media painting, and am excited about exploring the concept of essentially wearing your insides. I already have plans for another bottle cap based painting, and have ideas for other pieces… coffee filters popped in my head the other day…
Thoughts? Suggestions? Please comment! Subsrcibe, like, tweet, digg, help me spread the word! As always, thanks for visiting!