No stopping Bill Treichel, 95, as he paints Australian outback landscapes onto bottle tops

Home Arts No stopping Bill Treichel, 95, as he paints Australian outback landscapes onto bottle tops
No stopping Bill Treichel, 95, as he paints Australian outback landscapes onto bottle tops

With an eagle eye, Bill Treichel applies his paintbrush to the tiny bottle top in front of him.

Not even the rooster’s crow from the garden can break his concentration.

An elderly man, wears a headband, blue dotted t-shirt, works with a brush, brushes, easel, paint beside him.
Bill has been painting since the 1960s.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

“I like to paint from about seven until nine in the morning because the light is generally pretty stable … after that, it gets cuckoo,” the 95-year-old said.

Bill spends hours each morning in his art studio — a converted caravan at his rural Millaa Millaa property about 100 kilometres inland from Cairns.

Elderly man, wears headband, polka dot blue t-shirts, shorts, stands in front of his old, dirty caravan.
Bill Treichel has converted an old caravan into an art studio.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

He has been painting since the 1960s, but the idea to craft detailed Australian landscapes onto bottle tops came to him about 20 years ago.

“I was at home one afternoon drinking a stubby,” he said.

“And I was flicking the bottle top in the air, and all of a sudden, the idea popped into my head, and that’s how it started.”

Bill’s strong work ethic and desire to remain active see him paint at least 12 bottle tops a day — sometimes more.

Each design is unique, often inspired by time on the land while gold prospecting with his son Adam Treichel.

A close up of two beer bottle tops with painting inside them.
Bill Treichel is inspired by the places he has visited.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

“Sometimes I paint a landscape, and I think, ‘Geez, that’s good. I’ll do another one just like it,'” Bill said.

“But there’s no way in the world I even get close to it. It’s very hard to do two the same, I tell you.”

Close up of lots of painted bottle caps drying on bench.
Once Bill paints landscapes, he covers them in resin and leaves them to set.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

How does he do it?

Bill has struck up an arrangement with his local, the Malanda Hotel, where the bottle tops are collected, ready to become his next masterpiece.

Once he’s collected them, Bill prepares the bottle top by removing the plastic covering inside the lid and “gives them a good wash”.

A close up from over the shoulder of an elderly man with grey hair under green band, painting a bottle top.
Bill Treichel paints at least 12 bottle tops every day.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

He paints a white background onto the base, then the sky, before deciding on the landscape.

“I’m not as quick at painting as I was when I was younger,” he said.

“I used to be able to do them in six minutes. Now I take longer, but I also include a lot more detail these days.”

Once he’s finished, Bill covers the bottle tops in resin for protection and leaves it for a day to set.

An elderly man, wearing a green headband, glasses, blue dotted t-shirt, chooses paintbrush while sitting at a desk.
Bill Treichel says he adds a lot more detail to the paintings now.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

‘Another bugger done’

Bill used to sell his bottle top art at markets, but now he does it for pure enjoyment.

Close up of six painted bottle tops with vivid landscapes.
Some of the many outback landscapes Bill has painted onto his magnet-backed bottle-top art(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

“I just like painting them. It’s something to do, and it keeps me occupied,” he said.

“And every time I finish a row of bottle tops I say to myself, ‘That’s another bugger done’.”

And there have been a few rows done over the years, with thousands in the collection.

Sarah Walker, the partner of Bill’s son Adam,  said she hoped that one day he would be able to sell the unique art online.

A view from outside looking into a caravan where a man sits at a table painting.
Bill prepares the bottle top by removing the plastic covering inside the lid.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

“I’ve never seen anyone else doing this type of art, and Bill really enjoys making them,” Ms Walker said.

“I don’t think he will ever give it up. In fact, he told me he’ll be doing this until he is 113.”

Man leaning on a stick, stands inside a caravan with his art beside him on a table.
Bill with his many bottle-top creations.(ABC Far North: Amanda Cranston)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.