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Clarence & Grace Woolsey

(1929–1987) & (?–1992)

Clarence & Grace Woolsey

Farmhands in Lincoln, Iowa, Grace and Clarence Woolsey were keeping their saved bottle caps in a gallon jar. One snowy night in 1961, when the jar was full, they started to make their first small sculpture with the caps. From there, things just went up hill with one astounding bottle cap creation after another: a bicycle, life-sized animals, and entire bottle cap buildings built to scale.

About ten years after they started their artwork, the Woolseys started displaying their pieces in a roadside bottle cap menagerie called "The World's Largest Pioneer Caparena." Caparena was their word for an arena of caps. Admission? Just 25 cents.

The Woolseys soon became discouraged because of the lack of response at the two shows they staged and they abandoned their hobby. After their deaths, their unique creations were newly "discovered"—to whole lot sold off at auction for $57 from where they had been stored in an old barn belonging to Grace's brother.

Today, Woolsey sculptures have sold individually for $5,000 and more. Their art is recognized among the most significant pieces in American outsider art. Their legacy is more than 200 sculptures created or covered completely with bottle caps.

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