23 December 2011

Stick a Cork In (On) It

For our anniversary yesterday, I made Steve a cork initial letter to display on the great room shelves.

I've saved the corks from pretty much every bottle of wine we've ever had, which isn't a ton of corks, but some friends who are serious wine connoisseurs saved some for us for, oh, probably a couple of weeks, so we're well-stocked in the cork department. So I decided to make an initial letter for them, too.

Here's how it all went down:

I started with these particleboard letters from Hobby Lobby (about a dollar each after a 40% off coupon).

I attached the corks with a glue gun, but I dry fit them first:

Then I carefully removed the corks, one by one, and glued them in place. Some helpful hints (that I wish I had figured out sooner):

1. Have a phone on hand, ready to dial 9-1-1 when you slice a finger off. Just kidding. Sort of. Cutting the corks can get pretty dicey. Maybe there's a better way than using a bread knife (although it did make nice, even cuts).

2. There are more cuts than you probably realize. In addition to halving the ones that stick up from the letter (or, for the longer corks, cutting them shorter than half), I notched several corks to get them to fit better. Eventually I figured out that eyeballing where the cuts should go didn't cut it, and I started marking the notches with a red pen:

3. Whenever possible, make the cuts on the upper side of the lower cork so the cut is less obvious. For instance, with the corks above, I could cut a diagonal sliver off of the end of Barcelo S.A. cork, but instead I notched the Clos des Mouches cork so someone looking at the letter from below (the most likely vantage point) would see less of the cut.

4. Champagne corks are too bulky to use as-is (they would stick out a lot farther than wine corks), but cutting them in half lengthwise (in cross-section, if that makes sense) make them too short/skinny. Our wine enthusiast friends do not discriminate, so we got a fair number of champagne corks, too. I didn't anticipate using them on the letters, but the layout on the vertical part of the letter wasn't working out with regular corks, so I decided to throw in two champagne corks (and then some others worked their way into the layout as well). My first effort to cut them down failed -- they were so much shorter than the other corks, and the gaps between them were really pronounced...

...so I started over with two new champagne corks and only sliced off a sliver from each (no more than a quarter inch):

Much better.

Here are the finished letters:

Some of my favorite corks? The Saintsbury ones (in honor of the bottle we shared on our first date -- a 1998 pinor noir):

And this bunny cork my mom sent me for my birthday last year:

Other ways to use these cork letters? Trivet (greater care would have to be taken to ensure that the corks are a more regular height) or wall hanging -- or wall hanging in the kitchen that comes down for use as a trivet.

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