Spring break this year wasn’t glamorous. One kid got the flu, the other got annual shots, I got a cold, and of course it was a drill weekend for Hubster (It’s ALWAYS a drill weekend, it seems). Also it snowed. At any rate, there wasn’t a lot of extra time for sleep, projects, or even a ton of relaxing. Still, I carved out two hours to create something with my hands, a rare feat in my world. I managed a Pinterest project and did NOT fail: I made an American flag out of wine corks.
Making a Wine Cork Flag
In the busyness of the week, I was proud of myself. I squeezed in one Lizzy-only movie (a contrived Hugh Grant rom-com, totally worth it) and one homemade gift. My sister-in-law’s birthday is this month, but she has been a little inundated with gifts since she got married two weeks ago. I wanted to make something that wasn’t totally stupid or ugly, preferably with the large amount of wine corks I’ve been saving throughout 8 years of marriage thinking I’d have a cool craft for them.
Lesson: Most “Wine cork crafts” are stupid
When I first searched Pinterest for “wine cork crafts” I gleaned hundreds of projects, many of which are quite frankly stupid. Who wants a kitchen utensil holder made out of corks? How about coasters? Nothing makes a good coaster for fragile glasses like a not-quite-level chunky surface. Or a chandelier? How bohemian. And probably not up to electrical code. Redoing a kitchen? Definitely a wine cork backsplash will be a major selling point (and so easy to clean!).
Anyway, I was inspired by tutorials like this one on a wine cork flag. I also read a few posts on how to work with cork, including one that suggested I steam them for a few minutes before I try to cut them. That one was helpful.
- Wine corks
- Cardboard (for backing)
- Cutting board (or lots of extra cardboard)
- Utility knife
- Paint (I used $.79 acrylic paint from Michael’s)
- Smallish paint brush for stars
- Hot glue gun
- Optional: steamer
- My total cost: about $4 worth of paint, glue, and ribbon. The wine corks are a labor of love.
Step one: estimate
Most tutorials had specific numbers of corks, but it really depends more on how big I want my finished product. I used a shoe box lid from my son’s dress shoes we bought for a wedding as my “template” to estimate how many corks I would need, especially if I cut them in half. The lid is about 7″x9″, a little smaller than a sheet of paper. If I cut my corks in half, I needed about 19-20 corks.
Step two: prepare
I read a few additional tutorials on working with corks, but really the only lesson I followed was to steam my corks for a few minutes first. This allegedly makes them less crumbly when cut. I seemed to do okay, but since I didn’t use an unsteamed cork as a control for this experiment, I can’t say for sure this step matters.
Step three: cut
I used a cutting board and a plain old utility knife from our work bench, but there are probably better knives out there for this step. I sliced most of my corks in half lengthwise, and a few in thirds because I wanted to vary my blue star space on the finished product.
Step four: estimate again
I know from previous crafting that if I don’t keep realigning what I want, something won’t measure correctly, so I rearranged my cut corks several times in my shoe box lid stencil. Then, I cut a new piece of cardboard a little smaller than the lid so my corks would hang off a bit on the edge.
Step five: paint!
I used $.79 acrylic paint from Michael’s in red and blue; I planned to make use the natural cork for the white stripes. I didn’t put a thick coat on, as I wanted the cork designs to come through. Then, I rearranged again on my cardboard.
I also painted the back of my cardboard in acrylic white, just to make it prettier. I added a note for my sister-in-law too, to make it difficult for her to regift later if she decides she hates it 🙂
Step six: glue
In a stroke of good luck, I found a small strip of fabric lace in one of my craft boxes (I’m sure there is a technical name for this but I have no idea what it is). I had just enough to go around the edge of the cardboard, so I hot-glued that to serve as a border.
I arranged all my corks and then picked them up one by one to glue on using my mini hot glue gun. I debated painting the front of the cardboard too, but decided colors might be more obvious than the natural cardboard.
My one mistake in gluing was that I lined up all my corks and glued down on the right side, so that side is straight. By the time I finished gluing, my left and top edges got a little wonky. If I do this again, I will begin gluing from the center; any good floor tiler knows this, but I am not a good floor tiler.
Step seven: admire!
I am very pleased with how this turned out, but debated adding stars lest I screw it up. I attempted to make a star “stamp” out of another cork (another Pinterest tutorial) but this was an epic fail; there was no uniformity at all. I ended up free-handing stars with a small paintbrush to try to fix the kerfuffle of my stamping attempt, and it turned out okay. The final product definitely looks homemade!
If you decide to try out something like this, please share your final product. I do not consider myself a crafter, but I will definitely keep drinking wine now that I know my corks can have new life! My next cork craft goal: Christmas ornaments. OR if you find another really stupid thing someone tried to make with wine corks, share that too!