Putting a twist on her commitment to recycling, Dede Alderman created bottle cap belts in 2006. Their informal styling and subtle sound stem completely from salvage, making them the perfect eco-friendly accessory.
Its garbage art, said Alderman.
The Interlochen resident and co-founder of Rhythmic Adventures is best known for her drumming and leading drum circles. Her bottle cap belts -- most recently clasped with funky buttons, also rescued from the landfill -- are the finishing touches on a wearable percussion instrument. Earlier iterations of her belts used a final bottle cap for a clasp.
They are inspired by both belly dancing and also Native American dresses, said Alderman of the belts. She envisions bottle cap armbands and possibly a whole dress sporting the throwaways.
Theyre fun, theyre good for shimmying, the sound has energy about it, she added.
Alderman has about 15-20 households around the state saving beverage caps for her. She has also received donations from area bars, which generate a lot of used caps in a short time.
People say, Youre promoting alcohol, said Alderman of some disapproval she has fielded. But I answer, No, Im promoting recycling.
Alderman punches a hole in the caps for stringing together with hemp twine, waxed thread or (rarely because of the expense) sinew. She either sews caps on individually or in a series to speed up production.
After handling so many caps over the past two years, she does not even notice the logos anymore, just the color or sizes.
Pretty much anything you can string together works, said Alderman.
You need a sturdy thread because of the sharp edges.
Alderman harvests cloth for her belts from Goodwill or family members. She roughly chops the shirts of various fabrics, patterns and colors into swatches. Her husband, Marc, inherited at least 50 ties from his grandfather, recently sparking a variation on a theme.
I usually use a cotton, but you can try floaty fabrics, she said.
Alderman debuted the belts two years ago for the Earth Day parade. She sells them at shows when she plays music on the road and is considering placing them in venues around the region if she can build enough inventory.
I dont really have them out there but I wish I did, she said.
This year, she taught others how to make them during two of the many Earth Day Community Art Studio sessions held at the artCenter Traverse City throughout April. She finds that each belt made by a student is different, reflecting a twist of their own personality as they match or contrast colors, shapes and themes among bottle caps.
The truth is its a lot more fun to make these with a group of people, she said. And Im all about sharing the idea.