Rusty Crowns As Art

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I meant to write about these before, but they got away from me. British photographer — and current Bay Area resident — Charly Franklin is making some amazing art … with rusty beer caps. And not just rusty, but “rusted, bent, discolored and generally distressed.” He’s taking very detailed photos of these crowns and blowing them up large, over three feet in some cases, which gives them almost an otherworldly appearance. Or in Charly’s own words, an “extraordinary quality and graphic dynamic that looks amazing.” And I have to agree. The patina of the rust, along with the colors and texture of the bottle caps looks really cool. Check out some samples.

Here’s a black crown from Lagunitas:
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And one from Anchor:
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Check out the catalog of over 200 different available crowns from breweries around the world, but with quite a few from California and many craft breweries.

Here’s one from Trumer:
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And other of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum:
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Prints are available on framed canvases, in five sizes, including 18×18, 24×24, 30×30, 36×36 and 40×40 inches. Shipping is free within the U.S.

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Finally, here’s two more, starting with Bear Republic:
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And here’s Drake’s:
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KegWorks Amazing Bottle Cap Wall

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Here’s a pretty amazing time lapse video of KegWorks decorating the wall in their new office with 60,000 crowns. Thanks to Charlie Papazian for tweeting this video. It looks like a great way to use the space. KegWorks reached out to customers and fans on their blog, asking people to send in their beer bottle crowns, which they then put up on one large wall. The details are below, but watch the video to get the true scope of the project.

  • Approximately 60,000 bottle caps
  • 459 square feet of wall space
  • Many rolls of 30 mil thick magnetic sheeting adhered to the wall
  • 43 KegWorks employees putting up caps
  • Started: Tuesday, November 27th @ 3:47pm (Dogfish Head)
  • Last cap: Wednesday, January 23rd @ 2:31pm (Harpoon)

Cage, Agraffe Or Muselet?

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Most of you already know I’m a freak for obscure words and language more generally, so I’ll always take a look at a list of curious words. One that I recently was looking over at Mental Floss included such gems as a dringle, which is “to waste time by being lazy,” perfectly describing what I was doing when I discovered that.

But the other word was agraffe, which they defined as being “the wire cage that keeps the cork in a bottle of champagne.” I’d heard the word muselet used before, usually in connection with champagne, but many brewers today also use them, though most people I know refer to them more simply as a “cage,” as in a “cage and cork,” or occasionally a “cage and crown.”
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But agraffe is a new one on me. A quick search reveals that it’s more often used to refer to a part of a piano, “a guide at the tuning-pin end of the string, screwed into the plate, with holes through which the strings pass.” Most dictionaries I looked at didn’t mention the cage usage at all. Champagne.net does offer this definition.

Literally means “staple” (as in Swingline); in Champagne, this is a large metal clip used to secure the cork before capsules were invented, typically during the second fermentation and aging in bottle. A bottle secured with this clip is said to be agrafé.

Notice they also spell it with only one “f.” Wordnik, in their listing under Century Dictionary does list this usage, as the fifth definition. “n. An iron fastening used to hold in place the cork of a bottle containing champagne or other effervescing wine during the final fermentation.

Muselet doesn’t show up in most standard dictionaries either, but it is defined, at least, by Wikipedia:

A muselet is a wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. It derives its name from the French museler, to muzzle. The muselet often has a metal cap incorporated in the design which may show the drink maker’s emblem. They are normally covered by a metal foil envelope. Muselets are also known as wirehoods or Champagne wires.

Neither word is included in the “Dictionary of Beer & Brewing” (2nd ed.), but then “cage” isn’t listed in it, either.

So does anybody know? Those of you in the wine world, is either term in common usage, and, if so, is one preferred over the other? Or are they generally only used in France, perhaps? It seems more likely that they were originally borrowed from the French into English, but have since fallen out of use, or perhaps their usage lingers only in the technical jargon of Champagne and sparking wine. Anyone, anyone? Bueller.

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Next Session Explores Whether You Can Judge A Beer By Its Cover

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Our 55th Session takes a look at Label, Coaster and Cap Art. Our host, Curtis Taylor at Hop Head Said …, expounds on his topic Label, Coaster and Cap Art, and describes how to participate:

On September 2, bloggers from around the world will converge at HopHeadSaid to write about the fabulous world of beer art found on coasters, labels and caps. I am guessing that I am not so different from other beer enthusiasts – I like to collect beer labels, bottle caps and coasters. I think they are perfect souvenirs from beer travels or drinking sessions. Judging by the size of my collection you could say that I have had many enjoyable drinking sessions over the years!

Now it is time to dig through your stash and share your favorite label, coaster or cap art.

Posting Directions:

  1. Choose your favorite label, coaster or cap art.
  2. Scan, download or take a picture of your label, coaster or cap art.
  3. Write a paragraph that explains your affinity to your entry. Your explanation can be as shallow as or as deep as you want.
  4. If the brewery name or beer name is obscured be sure to label your entry to give credit where credit is due.
  5. Please limit your entries to commercial examples. Homebrew labels will be a topic for another session.
  6. Extra karma points will be awarded to those who write about two or more categories (label, coaster or cap art).
  7. Post your blog entry on or before Friday, September 2, 2001 and e-mail your link to curtis [at] hopheadsaid [dot] com.
  8. Alternate posting method: Post your picture and explanation on my HopHeadSaid Facebook page and I will copy your post to the “official” location.
  9. I will collect the entries throughout the day and post them on this page: The Session: Label, Coaster and Cap Art.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what about a beer by its label, crown or coaster? Let us know what you think for the next Session on Friday, September 2.

Beer In Art #95: Wesley Alan Harris’ Bottlecap Art

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Today’s featured artwork is by an RN from Plano, Texas, who in in his spare time makes incredible works of art using crowns, or bottlecaps, as his medium. The one that I first saw was a bottle cap version of the famous work by Henri Matisse, Icarus. The framed bottlecap Icarus is 2.5 by 4 feet.

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And here’s one of his Warhol-inspired portraits of Marilyn Monroe.

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Here’s how he got into making bottlecap art, from his blog:

My work with bottle caps all started as a joke in college, but eventually became a hobby, and moreover a form of art that is quite interesting, stimulating, and rare. It is also keeping in theme with today’s mindset of reusing and recycling trash to make genuine treasures. I have many friends, relatives, coworkers, and favorite drinking/dining establishments who save bottle caps for me.

A friend of mine opened a bar in 2008, and I offered my first piece as decoration in the bare-walled establishment. After receiving copious and favorable feedback about my first piece, I decided to undertake bottle capping more seriously in 2009. I have completed several ‘spec’ pieces, in addition to selling my first piece in August 2009. In March 2010 I had a showing of all of my bottle cap artwork.

Here’s that first one he did, which was started n 2002 but not finished until 2006.

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I think this is my favorite of his originals, a mostly blue field with the sun in the corner.

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And finally, here’s another Matisse inspired piece, his recreations of Blue Nude, Souvenir of Biskra.

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You can see the rest of Harris’ bottlecap works at his portfolio, many of which are for sale.

Bottle Cap Game

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I stumbled on this very cool beer bottle cap game. It’s essentially one of those simple memory matching games but uses crowns and flash technology to create a fun little game.

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You start out with 36 upside down crowns, after showing you them right-side up for a few seconds.

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Then you have to find all the pairs as it times how long it takes. You also get 100 points for each match found but lose 5 points for each wrong guess. You can also make it a little harder by clicking on one of the eight single color crowns to the right of the multicolored one to play a game using crowns of just one color, which is slightly more difficult to play.

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Fun stuff. Finally a time suck that I can pretend is really work. Give it a whirl.

Beer Bottle Cap Art

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Ever wonder what to do with all those bottle caps amassed from opening your beer bottles? Well artist John T. Unger has figured out at least one thing to do with them: make beautiful fish art. Talk about taking trash and turning int o treasure. He takes varying used beer bottle crowns and uses them like tiles to make mosaics. Below is just a sample of his work, which can be purchased online, though they are a bit spendy (about $450 per fish). But they are very cool looking.

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This fish is made from a mixed palette of blue bottle caps with a white face of Becks caps.

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This fish is made from Bud Light, Heineken and Becks bottle caps.

And inspired by Unger’s work with beer bottle crowns, the craft website Instructables has posted step-by-step DIY instructions to make a dragon wall-hanging using 540 beer bottle caps (170 Michelob Amber Bock, 206 Killians, 68 Budweiser Select, 96 Budweiser).

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540 crowns is 90 six-packs or 22.5 cases of beer.

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And here’s a close-up of the dragon.