Friday, April 22, 2011

Love, Love, Love: Crayola Marker Caps

You can tell a lot about a classroom by looking at the floor at the end of a school day. Just visit my second grade class. It's like an archaeological site. A dusty pile of bright orange crumbs is scattered by the door. Someone had cheddar Goldfish crackers and missed the garbage pail at the end of snack time. A crumpled Post-It note is stuck to the leg of a chair with the words "suburban neighborhood - houses and lawns." I betcha we studied book settings that day. A plastic Lego guy is laying on the ground next to a cubby. Looks like someone sneaked a toy into class AGAIN. I can only imagine what the custodians must think about each room (and teacher)at the end of the day.

One item there is never a shortage of is discarded and lost pencil box supplies. Careful where you step or a #2 pencil will send you flying across the room. Leaving purple streaks across the linoleum? You must have a crayon stuck in the tread of your shoe. The crunch underneath your feet can only mean one thing...pencil shavings from a busted up sharpener. Several years ago, one particular supply caught my eye while scanning the classroom floor: Crayola marker caps.

Preferred by teachers AND jewelry designers.
It never occurred to me to make something out of them until I started saving them in a container in class. I told the kiddos to hold onto them whenever their markers dried out. The first thing I noticed was that the colors offered today went far beyond the primary pack that I grew up with. Brights, pastels, neons, and even skin colors started to fill the jar. I found out that our art teacher, Mrs. Yessenow was saving them as well. She of course, had many more since she went through markers at a much faster rate. Stacked up in her large plastic jar, the caps looked like Technicolor ziti or giant hamster pellets for rainbow-colored rodents. 
washed, sorted, drilled, & ready to go
One weekend, I took a bunch home. I sorted them by color and was amazed by the variety. I lined them up in neat rows and got the idea for bracelets. They reminded me of the boldness and chunkiness of vintage Bakelite jewelry. After a good washing, draining, and drying (to remove the kid cooties), I pulled out the drill and got down to business. After much experimenting with different elastics, drill bits, drill speeds, knots, and files, I finally made my first bracelet called it a "REcap" bracelet.

The REcap bracelet has become the number one conversation starter at shows. I display them on a cafeteria tray in homage to elementary schools. I love seeing smiles, "aha" looks of recognition, and people calling their friends over to show them the wackiness. It always amazes me how objects carry such nostalgia for people and these bracelets always gets folks talking about school memories and childhood. And being that the cap hasn't noticeably changed over the years, kids of all ages are drawn to the familiarity of the colors and unforgettable shape.

bracelet buffet

Some artists look above for inspiration, but oftentimes the best ideas are rolling around right under your feet! 

Come have a playdate with your inner-child and try one on in person! You can find me at these upcoming shows:

TOMORROW! Saturday, April 23rdNew Beginnings Trunk Show with Folk Couture by Grace Napolean – Bethel, CT
Friday and Saturday, May 6th & 7th – Twist – Northampton, MA
Saturday, May 21 – Shop the Archway – DUMBO – Brooklyn, NY


  1. I was thinking of the caps.. instead of a bracelet what about around a few aluminum cans to hold markers? My crayons are already in aluminum cans (tomato paste & tomato sauce cans) screwed into a wooden board.
    This would be great to corral the markers and crayons in a classroom or at home. That's my two cents.
    -Liz T.

  2. What a clever idea Liz. The caps could fit nicely around the can. Plus, think about the pattern possibilities. I'm gonna give it a try!