Do It Yourself: Recycled corks supply new works of art

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Wine corks are largely ignored objects.  Although they appear to be nothing more than small and unassuming little chunks of ground-up, spongy wood, they’re awesome for crafts!

Corks are more interesting than one would guess.  Have you ever stopped and peered at one closely?  Many of them are beautiful and intricate, like tiny works of art.  If you doubt my words, just take a look at a wine cork the next time you come across one.  The fancier the label, the better. There can be a delightful array of charming images (or words) etched into the surface.  I’ve seen little whimsical ponies, flowering grape vines, sailboats, and… a naked man?  Yes, wine corks provide their own unique gallery of tiny, artistic treasures.  And they come free with the bottle, like a little party favor sent to you straight from the winery!

So… what can we do with all this delightful, unrealized potential of wine corks?

We can make crafts.

The first step of wine cork-crafting is forming a collection.  If you happen to be a wine-o who drinks several bottles a week, then you’ll be a great collector.  For the rest of us, we need outside sources for our corks.  The best place found in Forest Grove so far is the wine shop on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Main Street: the Friendly Vine.  They lived up to the shop name and were indeed friendly, allowing Kaely Summers (an alumnus and Americorps at the Center of Civic Engagement) to take a large box of corks off their hands.

It was Kaely who first showed me the wonders of cork-art.  She had organized “Gifts for Good,” a weekly recycled-crafting session on campus to help generate funds for nonprofits in Forest Grove.  We made dozens of little cork boards from wine corks and hot glue, which sold well during the holiday season  (I gave one to my mom, who’s just shy of being a true wine-o… and she loved it).  The boards were easy to make, cute and functional:  all great qualities for a recycled craft.  We sold many items during that holiday sale, but the cork boards were some of my favorite items.

Whether you “drink your own” or borrow from friends and wine shops, try to collect at least a shoebox’s worth of wine corks before you begin.  They go fast once you start!  With a glue gun in hand and an open mind, start gluing the corks together to make:

-Bulletin boards! Dress them up with pretty ribbon and a loop hanger on the back, to mount it on a wall.

-Cork animals or ornaments!  We made little “cork reindeer” ornaments at Christmas, using twigs for their antlers and legs.

-Jewelry!  Cork earrings are lightweight and casual, and cork lapel pins are cute.

-Picture frames!  Corks circling a photograph (perhaps a portrait of your favorite wine?) make for an interesting border.

An added blessing of working with corks is their soft texture.  They’re sturdy enough to act as a cork board or picture frame, but light enough to make comfortable jewelry.  Corks are easy to cut in half with a pair of scissors or poke a hole through with a piece of stiff wire.

If you are nervous to explore the world of cork-art alone, come to “Gifts for Good” craft nights at Scott Hall, produced by sophomore Alex Bell with the “Sprucin’ Up the Arts” student club.

On Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. you’ll find good folks making all kinds of recycled crafts in the Center for Civic Engagement.  Some of the best crafty talent on this campus gathers there weekly to make notebooks, clothing, jewelry, handbags and more from someone else’s trash.  Contact Bell for more information on “Gifts for Good” craft nights (, or check out the “Sustainability at Pacific” Facebook page for upcoming events.

Never let a wine cork go to waste again!  Grab your glue gun and Do It Yourself.


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