Landlord-compliant "wallpaper" from recycled toy bubble capsules

This is brilliant! Wall covering crafted from those little vending machine plastic bubble capsules toys are sold in:

One Saturday, B and I went to the always-wonderful East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse for some possible visual inspiration. Wandering amid aisles of castaway curiosities and recycled objects, we found three boxes filled with hundreds of discarded brightly-colored plastic toy capsules, the kind you'd see in 25-cent vending machines, clear orbs with tiny trinkets inside. They were too much fun to pass up. We bought the entire lot of them, and brought them home. Each of the capsules had holes drilled through the top and bottom, like a giant bead. We hit on the idea of stringing them together as a wall hanging, using heavyweight fishing line and hanging them in rows from the top of the picture moulding in the living room. I ordered a economy-size box of picture hangers from a framing supply store, and the project was ready to go.
(Totally landlord-compliant) bubbly wall art made from recycled toy capsules
(, photo courtesy erikaceous / via Ethan Persoff)


  1. I love this idea and I love the idea of a “Depot for Creative Reuse.”

    Does anyone know of a similar place closer to southern California? My girlfriend’s been trying to clear out her childhood home, which has been overrun by hoarding (shameless:

    I can’t think of a better place to donate all the weird knickknacks she’s digging up. Among other things, so far she’s found 15-year-old Chuck E. Cheese tokens, an old collection of Pogs, Street Fighter: The Movie action cards, and a weirdly adorned red-beaded horse figurine.

  2. Great stuff! But a correction of an error from the original piece: Those capsules are not from 25 cent machines as we know them in the U.S. Those are clearly “Gashapon” machine capsules; the Japanese equivalent. American 2″ capsules (and the majority of smaller 1″ capsules) have a flatter colored lid with a lip that makes the whole capsule look like an acorn. Gashapon capsules don’t have an acorn shape at all.

    Yes, I know these things. Especially this week since I am waiting on delivery of a vintage PN95 1″ capsule vending machine with a Northwestern glass head as well as some vintage vending machine labels so I can have my own mini-vend in my humble abode ;)

    1. Hey Jack! Thanks for the Gashapon correction; I’ll note it on my blog. I wondered why the capsules we found at the Depot looked slightly different (and much more colorful) than the ones I usually see.

      Best wishes to you, and hope your vintage vending machine arrives safely!

  3. I love the idea of the Depot too! I wonder if there are any in Toronto … the closest example off the top of my head is Active Surplus. A regular for-profit, and more inclined towards gadgets, but full of fairly random things.

  4. sure, but they aren’t fire safe. They will melt into a cloud of poison gas.

    goes well with the Ikea furniture.

    1. …unlike the fancy schmancy oil pantings (full of heavy metals and other fun toxins) that others (foolishly) have hanging around their homes.

    2. Not only are they not fire safe, they’d be hell to keep clean. I can’t imagine they’d look very good after six months or so. I guess it’s temporary wall art.

      1. Geez louise, do you feel the same way about clothes? I can’t imagine clothing looks very good after six days or so. I guess clothing is temporary body art.

  5. I think the very soft pitter-pat of the balls gently kissing the wall when the A/C is on would drive me quite mad in the space of an afternoon.

    Otherwise, I do like to look at it.

  6. soft pitter-pat of the balls gently kissing the wall when the A/C is on

    Note that these were from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. A/C? We don’t need no stinking A/C!

  7. It’s so funny to see these again. I used to work at the Exploratorium, and they used the clear half of these to make a giant model of nanotubes, I believe. When I left for another museum, I volunteered to take 3 or 4 boxes there to use for what ended up being an unrealized craft project for kids. Then my husband wanted to model interconnected nodes of a database as a sculpture at his office, so we brought the boxes there. That project also ended in the mists of best intentions, with the boxes sitting in the ping pong room. Months (or years?) later, I was helping my friend Michael collect materials for Make Play Day at Maker Faire so we brought the only-slightly-diminished load to San Mateo. The Depot was probably there as a Maker that year, and I seem to remember that they or SCRAP took some of the extras home. Who knows? It’s possible your wallpaper came to you by this circuitous route. Nice to see them being used well. When the dust and fire danger convince you to de-install, I found that they made interesting bendy poles if you stacked them and then strung them together through the top center hole of each dome.

    1. I really thought for a second that second one was for the Children’s Crap Store.

      Do they take consignments? My diaper pail is overfull…

  8. That is stunning !
    High maintenance, but must not be too high if you have a white fluffy couch. Obviously no pets.
    Beautiful interior – congratulations !

    For anyone in Sydney, an equivalent recycling co-op would be Reverse Garbage.

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