Most people open a beer and toss the bottlecap in the garbage: out of sight, out of mind and into the landfill. Why not save it and let it be the seed that will blossom into something new? We can continue to live in a throwaway society or we can take our trash and create new forms, functions and experiences.
The theme of Burning Man 2012, Fertility 2.0, calls to mind the idea of rebirth and renewal. The Bottlecap Gazebo showcases the endless possibilities of artistic resurrection through the repurposing of discarded materials into the form of a beautiful structure. In the Gazebo, an everyday object – the bottlecap – is transformed into a shimmering flower canopy, a blooming new life form, a beautiful miracle of nature.
The Bottlecap Gazebo is both male and female; the ultimate representation of fertility. It is at once bold and masculine in size and form, as well as sensual and smooth, featuring feminine curves, colors and delicate craftsmanship.
The Bottlecap Gazebo is a social meeting place, providing a space to interact with others. Gatherings of every kind, planned and spontaneous, can be discovered in and around it both day and night. It is a sculpture to look at, climb on, sit inside, and shoot fire out of. It is a place to experience a quiet sunrise, or a throw a raucous dance party. Its environment will grow and evolve with the help of fellow Burners who can participate in creating their own bottlecap art with which to adorn the structure.
The Bottlecap Gazebo is the evolution of the Power Plant, built for the Green Man in 2007. It is the next step in the progression of our bottlecap art. Though many artists work with this medium, our method, hand crafted attention to detail and creativity sets our work apart. By painstakingly smashing each cap flat, punching holes in it, and attaching it with wire, cap by cap, we take a simple round piece of household waste and create a large scale object of complex shape and color with beautiful gradients, patterns, curves and angles.
The Bottlecap Gazebo will be an octagonal, two-story structure made from lumber, steel and about 75,000 bottlecaps. The Gazebo will stand 24 feet tall with a footprint of 32 feet in diameter, not including the fuel and power depot. It will resemble a massive flower, as the roof and shade structures will be made of brightly colored bottlecaps, woven together in beautiful patterns to form petals and leaves. The center of the flower will shoot fire up above the Gazebo.
The structure of the Bottlecap Gazebo will be made of wood and minimal hardware. The construction style will draw inspiration from traditional Japanese joinery techniques. This will allow us to minimize materials while creating an elegant aesthetic. The structural components will be made of lumber, either purchased new or salvaged from completed construction jobs. Some of the exposed lumber, such as the portions of floor and benches will be repurposed from an old barn, and will display a rustic, semi finished look that will be varnished and sealed to prevent MOOP and splinters. The wood will remain exposed in most cases, yet some will retain original paint from its past life, creating a diverse and textured façade. Each of the eight sides of the Gazebo will be open, and feature curved, wooden arches.
As you approach the Bottlecap Gazebo from afar, it appears as a lotus-like flower of many colors floating in the distance upon a canopy of eight petals curving down to the earth and eight leaves curving up to the sky. When you get closer, the eight-sided Gazebo comes into view, and you can ascend the concentric stairway to the ground floor to get a closer look. Here you discover comfortable bench seating on six of the eight sides oriented inward to accommodate conversation and outward to invite views of the open playa and interaction with the city itself. The lower level is a meeting place to sit and relax or mingle and be social.
In the center of the Gazebo, you notice a ladder leading up to the second story. These solid steps lead up to an observation deck with railings around its perimeter. Elevated thirteen feet above the playa, it is a wonderful vantage point from which to gaze out across Black Rock City. Those who climb up are rewarded with close-up views of the bottlecap workmanship and the opportunity to control the sculpture’s flame effects. The simple press of a button will shoot a 30 foot fireball into the sky above.
The bottlecap canopy of the Gazebo provides decoration, shade and sculpture. Eight large petals made of bottlecaps extend ten feet off from each side of the Gazebo’s second floor and hang down four feet to be inspected from below. Eight large leaves curve upward, rising four feet above the second story, between each of these petals. From the center of the upper level rises a massive lotus-inspired bottlecap flower, about six feet tall and five feet in diameter at its base. This centerpiece is the container for the Gazebo’s flame effect, which erupts fire into the night sky. Participants climb up to the second story to activate the poofer using a simple button.
In total, the Gazebo contains over 75,000 bottle caps collected from friends, local bars and breweries. To construct the petals and leaves, each cap is flattened, punched with holes and woven to the next with steel wire. The petals are stretched over steel frames for support and shape. This construction technique allows the petals to cast beautiful patterned shadows on the playa.