Ian Vandenberg uses bottle caps, particularly from Abita Brewing Company beers, to create pictures of Louisiana wildlife, college logos and fleurs-de-lis. ("Everybody wants a fleur-de-lis, I've probably done a hundred," he says). Vandenberg is a graphic designer and he likens the caps to pixels on a computer screen. "Really big pixels," he says, laughing.
Vandenberg began making his images several years ago, after he toured the Abita brewery and saw a bottle cap piece in the shape of the state of Louisiana.
Before that, he had joked about being at the brewery so often that he thought he could get a part-time job there. He later joined the visitor center staff and realized he could take home unsterile bottle caps, which are unsuitable for use in packaging.
"I probably have 100,000 caps at home from Abita," Vandenberg says.
Now he has a growing art business in his home. "It's all over the house," Vandenberg says. "Our kitchen island is always covered in bottle caps."
He's sold pieces throughout the area, and New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Ryan Griffin commissioned a piece depicting the logo of his alma mater, Tulane University.
In the last year, Abita cut its number of bottle cap colors from 12 to six, so Vandenberg approached cap manufacturers to get the colors he wants.
Vandenberg's work is on display at his Pelican Capworks Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pelicancapworks).