Project Chaos, a nonprofit organization, is making a difference one glass bottle at a time.
Ken Bennett was inspired by his friend who crafted cool bottles with labels and hung them on the wall. On a trip to go bottle a wine, Bennett decided to create those same bottles, and auction them off at the winery. So he took that idea, and added his own creative spin, adding patches and pins, and Project Chaos was launched July of 2015.
Ken Bennett is the father of Wade Bennett of the U.S. Army who was killed in action. Wade was serving his third Tour of Duty in Afghanistan in 2012 at the time.
The first year Bennett donated 25 bottles, followed by 49 the next year. For Bennett, creating these glass bottles was therapeutic, after the death of their son Wade Bennett on November 10, 2012 during his third Tour of Duty in Afghanistan as part of the Explosives Ordnance Disposal.
They have had bottles auctioned off at over $600, but they generally go for $100-$150. The proceeds made from Bennett’s glass artwork go towards helping veterans. He also donates artwork to be auctioned off at veteran fundraising functions. Most of the proceeds go to the EOD Warrior Foundation, who was there for them after Wade was hit. The EOD Warrior Foundation helps “not only the EOD warriors, but the wives left behind, and the family,” through sibling, spouse, and parent retreats.
“EOD probably takes the hardest hits of any group of military people there is.” Bennett shares.
The Bennett’s also put a lot of support behind Boulder Crest Retreat, an established and well respected organization that helps soldiers with PTSD. The Bennetts acknowledged that they were a small group, but if they could raise some funds that could go towards that, then they could make a difference, no matter how small.
“You get in a room with other Gold Star families, you’re basically already family. There’s a bond there that can’t be explained, because you’ve all walked the same path.” Bennett explained.
Bennett has recently been branching out with bottle designs, and now creates military retirement and wedding bottles. He has made many custom law enforcement retirement bottles with badges, which makes a unique gift, and even one for Glendora High School’s baseball team to be auctioned off at a fundraiser. They are embellished with dates and names, and even patches and pins. Bennett has also made serving trays, by melting two beer bottles side by side.
The work that goes into creating a bottle is a tedious process, but the end result is a beautiful and unique gift.
Bennett shared the methodical process of acquiring the bottles from Third Street Winery in La Verne, neighbors, and coworkers. Through trial and error, Bennett procures specific sized, shaped, and colored bottles that work best for his pieces, and has even specially bought certain bottles to bring out the beauty in each piece.
He then proceeds to soak the bottles in water for a day, and then tediously scrape off the labels and glue. The bottles then have to be dried for three to four days.
The next step is to get it engraved. The artwork that is engraved onto the bottles is very detailed and precise. For now, he sends out the bottle to be engraved, but he hopes that someday he will be able to get the equipment and engrave the bottles himself. He then adds patches, pins, and beading for the finishing touch. The bottles also have a hook on the back so they can be hung on the wall.
Bennett shared that the next move for Project Chaos is to start making bottles for Gold Star families. His primary target is to reach out to the families of EOD soldiers.
The Bennetts are also looking to sponsor more events, and “anything they can do to help out.”
Through his glass artwork, Bennett hoped to spread awareness that these issues do indeed exist. They are looking to raise some funds to offset the cost so they can give these bottles to EOD Gold Star Families.
“People don’t see these soldiers, these veterans on the news everyday, but their struggle continues long after they come home.”
Visit projectchaos.org to buy their EOD glass art and shirts, or to make a donation. They also do custom orders, and you can contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries.