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A Note from Jessica: Today is our second to last day in Florence, the home of Michelangelo’s David and policia who ride around on white horses. I’m so excited to have my friend, Kelly W., share this project with you as it is something that I admire each and every time I come over to her condo for friend time. I’m also excited for K’s project to be lined up with Florence as it’s a city that is near and dear to her big-ass heart (yes, that was a Glee reference – K and I have spent many an hour admiring Darren Criss and Cory Monteith‘s… talent). K spent more than three months studying at the University of Firenze which makes her practically an expert on the city. So now, without further adieu, here’s K and her found Wine Cork Board.

Since college I have been enamored with the idea of “found art;” taking objects with a non-art function and modifying them into art pieces. This all stems from my poetry class where I created a found poem from a helpful pamphlet titled, “So You’ve Got Mono.” I often have found various objects captivating: old coffee makers, retro dress patterns, and hub caps, for example, and during college realized the name and potential of “found art.”

One of my goals when buying my home was to have unusual and texture-rich art. I was gifted a vibrant drape from Africa and a screen painting from my grandmother’s house, purchased a carpet from Egypt, and made origami lanterns to cover twinkle lights. But still, something was missing. Since a show-and-tell in grade school, I have thought making a wine cork board would be neat and now was the time.

Collecting

I realized quickly that I did not drink enough wine to make a cork board. At one bottle of wine every other week I would have, at most, 26 corks by the end of a calendar year. So I had to change my tactic. The first step I discovered in making a wine cork board is finding winos.

A wino is an individual who adores wine and works to develop a palate and partake in “good” wines. These are the individuals to ask for corks. Luckily, I work with one and before I knew it, every Monday morning was greeted with a Ziplo bag filled with corks.

I knew it would take some time to collect enough corks for the size of board I was imagining so I made a specific spot in my house to place the collected corks. This way my counter tops would not clutter and I could keep track of my collection progress.

To keep variety of corks and to accelerate my collection process, I found myself asking servers at restaurants if they had spare wine corks. Happily, they often had them in their apron pockets and were pleased to find that they would be used in an art project rather than ending up in the trash. On more than one occasion, the server would send me home with a small bag usually designated for leftovers, filled with corks from the bar and other servers. This thrilled me to no end. I did find, however, that some friends and acquaintances were embarrassed by my asking the server for anything other than food. I say, read your situation: If the server appears slammed, busy, or it’s the peak of the dinner hour perhaps abstain. All in all, I found wineries and restaurants excited about my project and all of them wished me luck.

Framing

Next came what I discovered to be the most difficult part, which was finding a frame. After scouring thrift stores I was dismayed to discover that frames were often made from synthetic and gross materials. I wanted this frame to be classy and eye-catching. I decided to make my own. I took measurements of the space the cork board would occupy (33 x 24 inches) and priced out how much wood for a frame and backing would cost. Then, as word spread about my project, a frame landed in my lap! An old bathroom mirror was donated to my cause and it served my purposes perfectly!

To fix up the frame, I needed paint. Thus, the dithering began. What color to choose? My living room is a soft celery color with gold and orange accents. If I had an orange frame I worried that it would be the only thing a visitor’s eye would draw to. If I did green would it be green overload? My goal was a gold-green that was slightly metallic. I wasn’t sure what paint options the hardware store held, but lo and behold, the perfect shade existed! Most importantly though, the finish gave a professional and antique quality to the frame because it had a hammer finish! It was a delightful discovery.

After the frame was painted (two coats), I my boyfriend attached a ¼ inch piece of plywood to the back of the frame using the little brackets from a picture framing package.

Arranging

Then, the frame was ready for the corks. I put an 80s movie on, grabbed my box of corks and got to work. Initially, my boyfriend and I thought we could cut the corks in half, thus doubling our cork supply. Sadly, the corks were hard to hold and the cuts were not smooth enough to lay down nicely. We thought a high-speed cutter would work, but after talking to a friend we were informed that a high speed cutter sometimes destroys the cork. It’s nice to know we weren’t the only people struggling with cutting corks! My tip is: avoid cutting corks and trust your glue!

The glue I trusted was Elmer’s Wood Glue®. It’s reasonably priced and works well.

Before gluing the corks, I recommend spending 2-10 minutes sorting your corks placing similarly-sized corks together.

I arranged (unglued) corks together in a 2-up and 2-sideways pattern and placed them in the frame along the bottom.

I did this all the way across to assess if there were space gaps. It fit almost perfect as long as I didn’t scrunch the corks in. I continued to lay this pattern all over the backing and made sure to look over the corks so as to place the most interesting part of the cork toward me.

Gluing

Then, it was time for gluing. Corks were lifted one at a time and glued in place. I am an over-glueer (have been since pre-school) so I left this task to my boyfriend. He placed all the corks in one by one. Not only does he have the patience of job, but he’s also a really nice boyfriend. After gluing, I recommend leaving it flat so it can dry evenly.

Hanging

To hang the frame, we used a dry wall anchor. The frame we used was pretty heavy so we wanted something pretty durable. If the frame is small or super light, I would recommend the little hooks that come in picture framing sets, which are about $2.

This is a fantastic project to start prepping during the spring and summer months when you’re out in the sunshine socializing and completing in winter when all we want is to hole up indoors. This project took 6 months of cork collecting, 10 minutes of painting (altogether), 1-2 days for paint drying, 15-30 minutes for a trip to the hardware store, and 4 hours of arranging/gluing (talk about a really nice boyfriend).

The cost of this project was fairly minimal. The paint options were $5.99-12.99, $2-8 for glue (we used ½ of a bottle), $2-3 for a picturing hanging set, and the rest was free. There can be an additional cost if you need to buy a frame or backing and that would vary on what thrift store or regular store you shop at.

Fun Fact

If you add up all the wine (and some of them were pricey) I figure my board represents over $1,040.52 worth of wine! Luckily, I didn’t have to buy all of it!

GIVEAWAY QUERY

Leave a comment below in response to the following simple question:

Take trenta secondi (Italian for thirty seconds) and share what’s your favorite type of wine:

Red, White or Bubbly?

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