Painted Bottle Cap Tray

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IMG_4421I originally saw this great idea a while back on Sweet Something Designs, and I’ve wanted to try it ever since. It was quite a few months in the making because I had to gather all of my materials and find solutions to a few problems. This included drinking enough beer to gather all of these bottle caps. I thought I was drinking a lot but apparently not enough. It took a lot longer than I expected to gather enough bottle caps, so I enlisted some help from my boyfriend’s fraternity, which sped up the process A LOT.

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Can you tell what my favorite beers are?

For my version of this project, you’ll need:

  • A tray with handles high enough to allow for bottle caps
  • Lots of bottle caps (so start drinking!)
  • Two colors of spray paint suitable for metal (I like Rust-Oleum)
  • Clear acrylic sealant spray
  • Acrylic water (I used Quick Water)
  • Disposable mixing container and stick
  • Thin piece of glass or PlexiGlass cut to size of tray

If you plan to create a design like I did, lay out your bottle caps in the tray – stagger them appropriately so that they fit somewhat tightly. Then pick out the caps that will have the first color. I created a chevron pattern. Spray paint these caps with your first color – yellow, in my case. They’ll probably need at least two coats.

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Once dry, you can lay them back down into the already planned pattern. Then pick up the remaining caps and spray paint them your second color – white, in my case. After two coats and time to dry, lay these back down into the preset pattern. The reason I think it helps to do it this way is that removing all of the caps after you’ve planned a pattern could make it difficult to perfectly replicate the pattern afterwards. Do whatever is easiest for you!

Next, you’ll have to mix the acrylic water. This is a two-part mixture that is used to create flower arrangements, so once it dries it has the appearance of water but hardens to hold the flowers in place (or bottle caps, in this case). You can use acrylic water to capture a lot of things, including photos and other trinkets. I used a brand called Quick Water, which I found at Michael’s for a reasonable price. Depending on the brand, follow the instructions on the box carefully. Most likely, it will require that you have a disposable clear plastic mixing container and disposable stirrer.

Once mixed well, pour over the bottle caps carefully, starting in the middle of the tray to avoid splashing against the sides. Try to distribute evenly throughout the tray, using your stirrer to move the liquid around carefully. You’ll have some time before it begins to harden, so take your time making sure you’re happy with how it looks. Your bottle caps may begin to float. Watch it closely for a while, pushing down the floating caps and popping any large air bubbles. To release the smaller air bubbles, you can also carefully tap the tray on the table a few times.

Let this site overnight. Quick Water required at least 8 hours without any disturbance and the more time you give it, the better. I found that the spaces between the caps hardened perfectly, but the substance left on top of the bottle caps was tacky. I sprayed the caps with sealant after taping off the sides of the tray. This helped a little, but it was still too tacky.

To remedy this last problem, I went to Lowe’s and bought a thin piece of PlexiGlass that they cut down to size for me. Before you go, measure your tray from the bottom if your tray is shaped like mine, smaller at the bottom and large at the top. Lay it on top and you’re good to go!

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If you’re more comfortable, you can spray an adhesive before laying down the PlexiGlass. I didn’t think it was necessary because I don’t use the tray for a whole lot, but it may come in handy one day.

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