Clay Artists' Outreach to Cancer Patients

 


The Bottles of Hope project was started in 1999 by a very special person, Diane Gregoire, a cancer survivor and polymer clay artist. Diane found a way to use her special talents as an artist to cheer up the lives of cancer patients going through the ordeal of chemotherapy. She used clay to decoratively cover small glass medicine bottles and gave them to other patients as a symbol of hope. Polymer clay, which is sold under the brand names of Sculpey�, FIMO� and PREMO�, is a colorful and versatile man-made clay that can be sculpted, textured, stamped and combined in a multitude of ways to produce unique designs in pieces of art.

 

In her own words, this is how Diane conceived of the project:

 

I was actually getting a chemo treatment at the Woman and Infant's Breast Health Center and playing with my clay. On the days of getting TAXOL I was there for 6 to 7 hours every week, and I noticed that the nurses threw away tons of small, glass medication bottles. After making sure they were non-toxic, I took some home, covered them with clay and made tops for them. When I brought them back in for the nurses, they LOVED them and so did some of the patients who saw me making them. They seemed fascinated with the clay and the colors, and for a while, they made people forget where they were. I started giving them away to the friends I had made at the center and called them "Wish Bottles".

I told my friends to just make a wish, write it down and put it in the bottle, and it would come true. I don't know why, but we all just believed this... maybe because we just wanted to, or that it was something to hold on to. But they LOVED these little bottles. They brought together - for one moment - women sharing pain without having to speak about it. Now all the staff has them and they are all over! I bring them down and put them on the window sill, and when the patients ask, the nurses tell them about me and the meaning of the bottles, which now have grown into "Bottles of Hope"! Since then, Diane has run workshops at the hospital where the patients cover bottles with polymer clay to make their own Bottles of Hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hope is that other art guilds around the country will also participate and bring Bottles of Hope to cancer patients at hospitals and treatment centers everywhere.

What you can do: We are appealing to polymer clay guilds, art guilds and individuals to expand the program to a national initiative. There are no special rules or forms to fill out. You can make bottles or host a workshop at a hospital. If you have no local outlet for the bottles, you can mail finished bottles to the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild and we will make sure they are distributed to cancer patients in our area.

 

Mail to: CCBS, P.O. Box 895, Clovis, CA 93613.

How to make a Bottle of Hope

We use small glass bottles (about 2-3" tall) from treatment centers that held Heparin Lock Flush, an inert non-toxic substance used to "push" medication through IV systems. They are completely safe. Many are thrown away every day and are free for the asking. You can also use other small bottles such as those for contact lenses. If the bottle has a metal cap, it can be removed with tin snips, and the rubber stopper can be saved or a stopper of clay can be constructed. The labels are soaked off in warm soapy water.

Any method can be used to cover the bottles. Try rolling out a thin sheet of clay and wrapping it around the bottle. Then decorate it with thin slices of clay "canes", or sculpt additions of flowers, leaves, animals, etc. You could texture the clay with lace, stamps, or tools.

The clay covered bottle should be baked according to the clay manufacturers' directions (usually 250-275� F for 20 minutes). Bake without the top in place because air inside will expand!

 

How to distribute the Bottles of Hope: Show some sample bottles to the oncology

department of your local hospital. The nurses, who have the most direct contact with patients, can help you give some away to patients. Explain that some patients use their bottles as wish bottles to hold wishes to or from the patient. Some keep them as a memento of their chemo treatment and consider the bottles a wish of health. Maybe some of the nurses would like to keep a few themselves to hold wishes for their patients.

Host a Workshop:

Many hospitals run art therapy workshops for patients.� Polymer clay is so easy to work with and patients will be delighted to create their own Bottles of Hope.� This is a perfect medium for children!� Share your talents with them.� These bottles can be decorated in any way, paint, beads, lace etc. can be used as well as the Polymer clay.

A word about the project:

Our hope is that this project remains grass roots; o one to one sharing of art and love.� The Bottles of Hope should NEVER be sold;

They are to be given freely to cancer patients to bring hope to their lives.

For more information contact:

Central California Bead Society

P.O. Box 895

Clovis, CA� 93613

Joy McClure: joyflwn@sierratel.com

Rhonda Gamble: RhondaGamble57@hotmail.com

(559) 276-2336

 

Classes for making the beaded bottles are held at Beads Etc. in Clovis (559) 297-8526 and JewelArt in Fresno (559) 229-4066

Or, do a search on the internet under �Bottles of Hope�

 

Bottles of Hope Logo