Monday, May 27, 2013

Hand Laid Cork Board

A here with a fun project you can work on while enjoying a glass of wine and your favorite (in my case, cancelled) TV series.  During a recent spring cleaning, J found my stash of wine corks in a cabinet and commented that they were overflowing their chosen container.  I took that as a sign it was time for a cork-based project and went shopping for a fanciful frame.  Unfortunately my imagination is greater than my penchant for alcohol, and I ended up having to buy more corks to bulk up my stash and complete this frame, but if you're smart you can choose a frame that matches your drinking habits.  The basic supplies for this project are:
  • Wine Corks (preferably ones made from real cork)
  • Large Exacto knife or box cutter
  • Photo frame
  • Hot glue
  • Cutting Mat

If you're like me and misjudge the possible square footage of your cork collection, I've found that corks are surprisingly cheap and easy to find on Ebay.  Apparently there are a lot of wineries and restaurants willing to front the world's cork crafting habits.  I bought a bag of used corks for approximately $.10 a cork.  Not too shabby considering it costs at least $5.00 for the cheapest bottles of wine.

Once I had my corks, I laid them out end to end and attempted to estimate how many I needed to cut to fill my framed area.  At the time, I was laying them in basic rows and wasn't terribly satisfied with the look, but I began the cutting process anyway.  Each cork was cut in half longways, paying careful attention to where the most interesting graphics were.

Once I had most of my corks cut, I started playing with the layout.  J saved the project's aesthetics by suggesting I try a herringbone pattern.  It took a little more creative maneuvering, but in the end it was well worth it.  I laid out the corks right over the glass on the frame until I was satisfied with the general look of the project.

At this point, I was well aware that the actual shape would require a lot of detailed cutting.  I removed the corks from the glass, took the frame apart (removing the glass completely), and used the cardboard insert as my base for the corkboard.  Starting in one corner, I hot glued corks in the herringbone pattern, stopping anywhere that a cork would go over the edge of the cardboard.  Once I had the interior of the board finished, I began filling in the edges by measuring and cutting the remaining corks to exactly meet the edges of the cardboard rectangle.

The corkboard looked fantastic!  Placing it in the frame wasn't quite that simple, though.  I attempted to place the cardboard inside the frame at least three times before I got it to fit.  Each time I noted which areas were beyond the border of the frame interior and shaved down any corks that were causing fit issues.  Eventually, each side fit just inside the interior of the frame and I put the backing on and locked it all in place.

A couple tricks I discovered by working on the project:
  • Overestimate the amount of corks you need, as some will disintegrate as you cut them.
  • Work your layout such that "boring" corks are scattered throughout or are used on the edges where their designs are diced up.
  • Place your prettiest corks where they will be prominently displayed.
  • Organize your corks by size as much as possible before you start.  Not all corks are exactly the same and every once in a while you'll be desperate for a narrow cork or one that's a bit longer than the others to squeeze in or fill up gaps.
I did this entire project on a TV tray while sitting on my couch.  It's an excellent project for those of you with no real crafting space and/or those who want to make their television addiction feel more productive.  I'd love to see what types of things you've decided tile with cork and what other gorgeous designs you're patient enough to come up with below!

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