Roommates Jeremy Davis, David Malinowski and Matthew Mason craft an array of bottle cap creations, such as coasters and tables, using epoxy.
STORY & PHOTO | JILLIAN WRIGHT
It was an idea three years in the making. One large table, one blow torch, two gallons of epoxy, $150 and 2,400 bottle caps later, three roommates completed their first piece of bottle cap furniture.
“We made that first table with no intention of selling it, but every time we had someone come to the house, they’d say, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing,’” Jeremy Davis says. “It worked out well, so then we thought, ‘What else can we do with these?’”
The large wooden table, adorned with a multitude of colored caps, wouldn’t have been created without the help of two friends, one of which Davis lived with in Dingledine Hall during freshman year.
“Jeremy was actually the first human contact I had from JMU,” Matthew Mason says. “He had posted something on Facebook like, ‘Who’s in suite 304?’ and I responded. We got super hyped over Facebook, and we didn’t know anything about each other at the time, but it was the beginning of a very good thing.”
Four years ago, Davis, a senior kinesiology major, began collecting bottle caps, intrigued by the variety. Later on, his suitemates, roommates and friends followed suit.
“They were so interesting to me because there were so many different kinds of caps and what not, so I started saving them throughout freshman year,” Davis says. “Then sophomore year I saw someone had a bottle cap table, and I said, ‘That’s what we should do.’ So we started saving them, and all of a sudden our friends started saving them too.”
Fast forward to 2015 in their Copper Beech apartment: Davis and Mason, along with their roommate, David Malinowski, a senior history major, began planning their table design in their living room.
“We tested out plexiglass, but you can’t bounce a ping pong on it, and glass is too expensive, so we kept looking,” Davis says. “I knew about epoxy, so I watched some videos of people making it. It’s just a chemical reaction between resin and hardener.”
Settling with epoxy as the most suitable choice, the roommates spent the next five days laying out the bottle caps, stirring up the epoxy and pouring it onto the table. Then they used a blowtorch, borrowed from a neighbor, to harden the surface, and waited for the finished product to dry.
“After the table was done, I showed pictures of it to different people, and then they started saving caps for us,” Mason, a senior engineering major, says. “My uncle regularly saves caps for me, and one time our friend, Colby, talked to a bartender asking him if he could just save all the bottle caps from that night.”
In addition to help from friends and family, the trio also add to their collection thanks to a useful device mounted in their kitchen.
“We have a bottle cap opener on the wall, and there’s a jar right under it, so whenever someone uses it, the cap just falls,” Mason says. “That makes it easier to collect.”
Satisfied with their first project — a table 7 feet long and 3 feet wide — Davis, Mason and Malinowski began exploring other possible bottle cap designs.
“We made the table for ourselves, but after having it for a little while, we started to experiment with other things with epoxy,” Mason says. “We did some coasters, and a stool as well, which was a grad present for my brother.”
Because the bottle cap coasters are easier, quicker and cheaper to create, the roommates decided to sell them, and have sold approximately 20 thus far. Among their customers are a “random JMU student,” Mason’s father, a Copper Beech security guard, and some friends, of course.
“A lot of people are interested in the table, but I don’t think they realize how expensive it is to make,” Davis says. “The coasters are more reasonable, and we sell those for $5.”
Before their senior year comes to a close, Davis, Mason and Malinowski plan to design a few more bottle cap creations.
“We have a set of cornhole boards, so it’d be really cool if we bottle cap those,” Mason says. “We also want to make another table because we each want one to take away when we graduate.”
Regardless of how many items they sell, the trio remains content spending time with one another hand-making their creations, surrounded by countless Ziploc bags and mason jars overflowing with bottle caps.
“We really enjoy making these, it’s not like we’re itching to make money off of it,” Davis says. “It’s more of a hobby, but we’ll see where it goes.”