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®, PREMO® and others 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.