At the bustling French Bistro where I once worked, servers and bartenders tossed wine and beer bottles by the dozens into large trash bins, emptied nightly at the dumpster with the food scraps and cardboard. This pained me. Didn't they grow up with the triangle, "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?" How did people not care? I remember owning a Klutz book that came with a bag of rice, notes on overpopulation and a cover made of recycled metal. Surely, a few words to the boss and the bartender, and they could install an extra recycling trash bin. Nope.
I had visions of rallying the entire shopping center complex to recycle all their glass bottles. In reality, I called for pricing of recycling services and left an un-returned voicemail with the shopping center headquarters. Hmm.
I did, however, rescue a dozen bottles of my own and adopt them into their forever home. I know next to nothing about liquor. But knowing a little about art, these made perfect subjects for sensitive line, and spray-painted a cold, matte white they were quite lovely and full of personality. They would be perfect for art class!
Several of my students came to class thinking they had zero drawing skill. Though skill can be taught, beliefs are indeed harder to remove and stand as obstacles even to just beginning. The bottles would provide a entry point.
We made it a game: the students sorted the bottles by categories they invented. Once sorted, a chosen student closed his eyes as another placed a random bottle in his hands. The "blindfolded" student guessed it's category: "It's from the giraffes!" (had to be there, it made sense) then he described to us the lines and shapes he felt. Finally, he made a 'ding' on the bottle with a metal spoon so we differentiate each bottles 'voice.'
We kept this up for maybe ten minutes, as a guessing game.. Then, passing out the charcoal, I asked the children to move their eye slowly over the edge of the bottle, keeping their stick of charcoal moving at the same pace on the paper, as.slow as an ant crawling over its surface.
Everyone hovered over their drawing with intense concentration and little awareness of time passing. At the end they decided on a composition, framed it in bold black lines, and rubbed in the background with conte crayon and a clean cotton ball. During the critique, once we finished, everyone showed signs of pleasure at their results.
So it happened that this merry bunch of liquor bottles that once capped off a lovely French Bistro evening, found new purpose in the experience of a few kids who thought they "couldn't draw."