Originally, I was looking for a quick craft with items on hand. One Ikea tray plus ten years of waiting tables and tending bar means a substantial stash of many corks from many different bottles of wine. Simple weekend project, right?
Part one: Cutting corks. I decided to cut the corks in half lengthwise in order to use fewer corks and to have the cut side of the cork sit flat on the tray. I came across a pin that suggested that soaking corks for 10 minutes in boiling water to make them easier to cut. This method did help, however, cork floats. I weighed them down in the pot with a metal strainer.
Cutting corks was easier, but not necessarily easy. I used a new razor blade (okay, box cutter) and held the cork still with Irwin vise grip adjustable pliers. I did not cut myself, but the force needed to evenly cut the cork wore a bit of a blister on my right pointer finger. Ouch
Part two: making a puzzle. After the corks were cut and dried, it was time to begin the process of fitting the corks onto the tray as tightly as possible. This was the fun part, sorting them by size and making sure to put interesting and fun corks so that they are featured. I also played a little game of “Where’s Waldo”, except it was more like “Where’s Chuck” because I sneaked in half of a cork from my beloved Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.
Part three: Glue gun. Pretty self evident. Fired up the glue gun and stuck the corks onto the tray. I could have stopped there and I would have had a nice natural cork tray.
But stop there? Noooooo…
Part four, five and six: Epoxy, as recommended by an associate at the Home Depot paint department: Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane with a satin finish. The first layer was to fill in some of the spaces between corks. The next day, I did the second coat to catch what I missed with the first, being careful to not leave bubbles. The third day, the third coat was to even thing out. I liked having the gaps filled in because I don’t need to worry about crumbs falling and getting stuck between the corks when I use it.
If I did this again, what would I do differently? First, I would paint the tray another color. I can still do this now, but not as easily. I am still thinking that I would like to add another layer of epoxy to make the surface completely flat. Waiting for it to dry was a little tedious, but well worth the wait.
Have you tried a cork project? Tell Hunnedo what worked for you! Share your story!