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Check out bottle-cap artist Amanda Willshire's amazing studio and work

Amanda Willshire is busy. Really busy. She works as a graphic designer and website developer and she's currently getting ready to help one of her clients promote herself during the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars (she's keeping her lips sealed about who her client is). Willshire is also working to complete pieces of her bottle cap art for commission and has just been asked by the Great Divide Brewing Company to make five pieces from their bottle caps to represent their five icons for their tap room.

Willshire took us on a tour of her studio, and talked about some of her pieces in progress, some of her old favorites and where she gets all those bottle caps.

Willshire designed her own studio in her backyard. The studio's a work of art in itself; it's made out of recycled metal tracking, fence slats and left-over metals. Colorful, sorted bins of bottle caps decorate the shelves, a metal basin of unsorted bottle caps sits beside her table. Her caps come from all over the place. Along each wall, Willshire's hung a catalog of her work, from her first pieces, when she used to flatten out each bottle cap and nail them to a board to create her art, to her more recent pieces, which are manipulated and hot glued together, like sculpture. Willshire gets a lot of bottle caps. She brings mounted bottle openers and catches she's made from, yes, bottle caps, to local businesses like Highland Tavern, Bluebird Theater, Ogden Theater, and Highland Tap and Burger, and they collect caps for her. She also gets caps from her friends and her neighbors. Willshire says that the constraint of having to work with the colors of beer caps keeps her creative. "Green is hard to find," she says. "But, I get a lot of Bud, Bud Light, Corona and Coors Light." Electric Bird Willshire's piece, "Electric Bird," was inspired by an accident she had in her studio. "I cut the crap out of my middle finger and I had sliced the nerve," says Willshire. "For a few months, pain was just shooting out of finger, and I was like, 'I feel like I have an electric bird.'" Joker Willshire created "Joker" when she entered the Other Side Arts Iron Artist competition. In the competition, each artist is given the same material to use and then judged on how well she or he incorporates that material into their piece. Last year Willshire won the contest. All of the artists were given a pack of cards. "I didn't even open the pack," she says. "I just took the joker off the back of the pack of cards and replicated it out of bottle caps." New Belgium Bike For about $150, Willshire will make a replica of your bike out of bottle caps -- complete with a little show box, with mountains printed in the background. Willshire made this bike to replicate the New Belgium cruiser, and she has various bottle cap bikes hung up around her garage studio, as well as some bike handles nailed to the wall, the handlebars adorned with bottle caps. "I have always loved riding bikes," she says. "In college, I began mountain biking in Arkansas. There are some great places to bike there. Then a couple of years ago I trained for a triathlon and took up road biking for the first time. Love it! The Denver area has a lot of great trails that you rarely see cars on. It's becoming quite a biker-friendly city." Candygram Willshire also paints, and "Candygram" is one of her favorite paintings. "I thought it would be funny to do a shark in with hot pink and blood," she explains. "Then one of my friends said 'You should name it 'Candygram,' which I thought was pretty funny, so it stuck. Painting's fun, but I have to say that the bottle cap stuff is more fun." Water-the-Lawn-Chair Aside from bottle caps and painting, Willshire also explores other mediums. "I like to play around with making furniture," she says. This piece, which sits on her front porch, is made out of plumber's piping, hinged cedar planks and lawn mower wheels. Wonder Woman "Wonder Woman" is one of Willshire's commissioned piece, and so for this piece, Willshire incorporated bottle caps the person had collected while traveling. The lasso, sword and arm band are magnetic and removable. Willshire likes her pieces to be interactive and playful -- many times there are moveable and magnetic pieces like in "Wonder Woman." Another piece she's working on, "The Incredible Hulk," will have moveable pieces so the clothes can break off. "You'll be able to see what the gamma rays have done to him," says Willshire.

For more information, or to contact Willshire, please visit her web page. Her pieces for the Great Divide Brewing Company Tap Room should be up by the beginning of April.

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