Inspired by a television documentary about the heaps of trash on Mount Everest, Jeff Clapp climbed upon an astonishing idea: to create art sculptures made from the aluminum oxygen cylinders abandoned by mountain climbers. Bells From Everest makes beautiful bells, bowls, and ornaments that literally come from the top of the world. They’re sold online and in art galleries across North America. Each purchase, in a way, helps the Himalayan Sherpas who collect, recycle and sell the trash…
The decorative and shiny bells and chimes were conceived as a way to reuse the discarded oxygen cylinders from Everest, and each one still carries the manufacturers’ serial numbers and fill dates — a sort of fingerprint of the Everest adventure. Jeff hand-crafts the bells and bowls on a lathe adding fine detail work to transform the weathered cylinder into a musical instrument with deep resounding tone.
The oxygen cylinders are manufactured by a variety of firms that build gear for professional mountaineers. They are made of sturdy, lightweight, premium-grade aluminum. Each comes with documentation of its purchase in Nepal, and is signed and numbered by the artist. Jeff obtained 132 cylinders from the Nepal Mountaineering Association in 2004 for $7,000. It cost nearly that much to ship them back to Maine.
The cylinders are discarded by climbers who want to lighten their load and increase chances of survival. Today, thanks to Jeff, and some climbers, particularly the Japanese, who wanted to return Everest to its glory, the trash is being cleared from the mountains.
Back in Maine, Jeff wastes nothing, even housing threadlike tinsel from the lathe into Christmas ornaments for sale. Clapp says, “The Sherpas of Nepal waste nothing. At Bells From Everest, neither do we!”
The ornaments are packaged in 100 percent recycled paper with a flyer that tells their unique story. If you cannot afford the $500-plus price tag on the bowls and bells, perhaps a $15 ornament is a way to share in the fun of an artist’s dream for Everest.
“Bells From Everest generates income for Himalayan Sherpas, removes and recycles waste from what should be the planet’s most pristine environment, and graces the homes of environmentally-conscious art lovers everywhere,” says the Web site, found at www.BellsFromEverest.com
Read more about Everest trash and Jeff’s efforts in this article by AP, where he says that “after his supply of oxygen cylinders runs out, he’d like to return to Nepal to show locals how to create the bells to make money for themselves.”
AP reported that “Clapp hopes to line up corporate sponsors for the project” of teaching the poor kids in Nepal how to work with a metal lathe... “Eventually, he wants to write a book.”
“When I first visualized creating this artwork, I was driven with the concept that it would be a benefit to others, specifically in Nepal.”