It started, like most worship installations at Westfield, with Pintrest. A seminary friend had pinned a craft blog post that gave instructions on how to make a suncatcher-mobile out of melted plastic cups. Among the most striking elements of Westfield are the two-story windows the line the walls of the sanctuary. On clear mornings, sunlight streams in through the windows warming the pews and people inside.
But there’s a part of me that misses the stained glass of Loganville, glass that told stories and threw light onto the floor and pews. There’s a sacred beauty to those windows. And a connection to the past. There’s power in knowing that the windows you gaze upon have been gazed upon in the same way by generations of church-goers.
Westfield carries its own simple beauty, but as we headed into this Pentecost–a day when we particularly remember the Spirit’s fire–I wanted to find a way to play with the abundance of light that regularly floods through our windows. Maybe we could create a stained glass effect on our own. And that’s when Pintrest and 3,000 plastic cups came in.
I found what thought were red, orange, and yellow cups online. Turns out they were more pink, orange, and pollen. Due to a lack of time (and, frankly, desire to pay return shipping and restock fees), our supposed-to-be red, yellow, and orange tongue of fire took on a neon theme.
One afternoon a volunteer and I spent nearly five hours melting, smashing, and cooling the cups. Here’s how to make that happen:
First, lay out the cups. We used large baking sheets that could hold 20 cups.
We placed the cup into a 325-degree oven for around 2 minutes. Once they’re out, we needed to smash quick! Take care when smashing to (1) not burn yourself and (2) try to smash straight down. It’s super easy to smash multiple cups together. Once they’ve cooled together, there’s no getting them apart! N.B.-Please ensure your work area is well-ventilated!
Then, let them cool. It’s important to give them 30 seconds or more on a cool tray before tossing them in with the already crushed cups. We collected them in trash bags by color and count–500 cups per bag.
Now to assemble! After some intense figuring out, we discovered that two tables end to end created a large enough work space. We laid cups in lines.
Next we placed strands of floral binding wire down the lines of cups and taped them onto the cups using small pieces of tape. Then we hot glued the wire to the cups. The most effective way we found was to hot glue over the peaks of the cup to ensure the glue sticks to the cup and covers the wire. We want the effect that they are descending–not for the actually to descend!
We assembled over 150 strands of cups in 4′, 6′, 8′, 10′, and 12′ lengths.
Next we ran fishing line across from balcony to balcony and attached the strand s by wrapping the wire around the line three times to one side then back to the other side three times. This keeps the strands from sliding back and forth on the wire.
Here’s how it turned out!
This was a HUGE project. It took hours and hours to complete and it looks incredible. Are neon melted cups everyone’s cup of tea? No. But the creativity and effort were well-respected. And it does create a pretty cool effect in the sanctuary.
This was also a project that included lots of participation from church members, which is always a plus in church work! Lots of folks helped glue, string, and hang. And of course, lots admired!