Students to create murals from collected bottle caps

Artists at Stoak’d created this mural depicting Jimi Hendrix from bottle caps. They will be among the artists who on Saturday will be helping students create artwork from half a million bottle caps collected by local school children.

There is a day, it seems, for everything.

We had Pi Day on March 14. Wednesday was the first day of spring, but, according to the National Day Calendar, it was also Ravioli Day. Friday is Puppy Day. And Saturday is Bottle Cap Day.

That last one is not yet on the National Day Calendar, but who knows?

It’s the first year for the event and it’s being held at the Cayman International School’s Arts and Recreation Centre. Unlike some of the sillier days, like Open an Umbrella Indoors Day or Talk Like a Pirate Day, this one has an earnest mission.

Volunteers will be sorting by colour more than 400,000 bottle caps that have been collected – mostly from Cayman beaches – so they can be used in creating murals.

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Jessica Mittelman, an art teacher in the primary grades at CIS, is the artist behind the project. The effort, which involves most of the Cayman schools, started with Mittelman wanting to do something with all the plastic bottle caps she saw while waking the beach. She thought about doing a mural at First Baptist Christian School, where she was once a teacher.

“I just emailed First Baptist to see if they wanted to do an art project using bottle caps,” she said.

Word about the idea circulated, she said, and other schools asked to participate. Before long, nearly every school was involved. Over a five-month period, students collected bottle caps from home use and cleanups in open lands, soccer fields and beaches. Mittelman had worked with recycled material in her artwork before and said she knew plastics were a problem, but she was surprised that the students collected nearly half a million bottle caps from September to February.

“That’s the magnitude of it,” Mittelman said. “It’s astounding.”

Not only does she plan to create an ocean scene for Camana Bay and First Baptist, but each school that participated in collecting caps will get a mural kit and help with creating a piece of its own.

Other agencies have joined in. Mittelman is getting help from the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, the National Trust, Art Nest, Stoak’d and Andrew Bodden at JUNK. The Marriott Beach Resort also helped collect caps, she said, as did Plastic Free Cayman.

Mittelman said she has no idea how many people will show up for the 9 a.m. to noon event on Saturday, but many of her students will be there.

“They’re so excited”, she said, “but they’re also tired of making posters about it”.

She said Bottle Cap Day is a singular event, but she sees it as part of a growing awareness in Cayman about the impact plastic is having on the environment.

“Everywhere I go, I hear about the movement,” she said. “It really does feel like a proper movement.”

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