It All Started with Ranger Rick…

It’s been a rare experience for me to feel like I’ve helped  make something BIG happen in my school.  Lots of little things, sure, but nothing BIG.  Until recently, that is.  And it’s SO COOL!  Last spring I read an article in the May issue of Ranger Rick magazine called Cool Caps about the work of Michelle Stitzlein, a sculptor who works in schools to create murals using recycled/re-used plastic caps.  These come from laundry detergent, bottles of water, peanut butter jars, you name it.  Michelle and her students turn them into beautiful works of art!

I got excited about the possibilities for our school and asked my principal what he thought. He loved the idea and so did our art teacher.  Judy is part-time and is retiring at the end of this year, so she agreed to take this on as an artist-in-residence project on the days that she typically isn’t with us.

I put out a call in June for families to save caps all summer and by golly they rolled in by the thousands (in a tub outside the library door) from September through January!  I saw to it that the caps were sanitized (by our fabulous kitchen staff and their deluxe dishwasher) and then organized many a group during rainy day recesses to come and sort by color.  Soon a rainbow of  caps began to grow in see-through bins on top of the library shelves.

Judy wanted to choose an artist and technique to focus on and Georges Seurat and  pointillism  were logical choices.  Judy worked closely with Jen, a fabulous intern, to get the panels ready.   Students did lots of problem-solving for the composition, they painted, and many glued on caps.  Parent volunteers and staff members screwed the caps in place and the results are amazing!  I present to you some highlights from our version of Cool Caps!  (There are 27 slides–don’t miss the ending.  You won’t believe what our kids did!  Gives me goosebumps every time I walk by now.)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Wilkins
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:09:01

    What a great project! It’s such a good use of recycling materials, and the art on the walls makes one feel good, too.


    • buchlady
      Feb 16, 2012 @ 16:43:32

      You’re so right–that’s exactly why the whole concept intrigued me to begin with! Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Carla Brown
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 03:17:38

    I work at National Wildlife Federation and my name is Carla Brown. I am volunteering to help my children’s school become an Eco-School ( and we are considering this project for our school too. Thank you so much for showing us it is possible, and for providing such inspiring photos. Now I can show this to everyone who will be involved and they can have a clear picture of the goal. I definitely know how it feels to be inundated by plastic caps though. We have been collecting them at NWF for a few years to give to Aveda, who has a plastic cap recycling program ( – so if you are done using your caps, you can bring the rigid ones to your nearest Aveda. But first – wouldn’t you love to make this rainbow cap curtain? – or check out the work of Mary Ellen Croteau who did an amazing self portrait with plastic caps. Hope you enjoy all the plastic cap tips!


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