The first time I had more than a couple of glasses of wine was when I was working in Marketing and Public Relations. One of the worst things about marketing, advertising and PR in the early years of one’s career is the low pay. But one of the best things about it is all the things you get to do for free, or on the account of the advertising representative. Which was great, because most of the things I got to for free I really had neither the time nor money to do had it not been for the “perks.” Since I was responsible for the advertising buys at my particular job, I often went to events with my ad rep — like Houston Astros games, greyhound racing, concerts, and NBA and NHL playoffs. And that’s how I met Gail, and learned about the fine art of wine cork collection.
Gail was an account executive for the Houston Chronicle. In fact she was the first female ad rep ever hired by the Chronicle in 1957. Even though she was nearing retirement, she rode her bicycle every day. She was my mother’s age but was more active than I. And Gail loved wine. I found this out when she invited me to watch an Astros game in the Houston Chronicle corporate suite. We went back to her house since that where I’d left my car, and she invited me in for a “glass” of wine. Gail had a solarium on the back of her house for wine drinking. And in one corner of the solarium was a pile of wine corks that must have been at least three or four feet high. It looked like a mountain of wine corks. I can’t remember exactly, but she may have even tossed a couple corks onto the mountain that evening when we polished off not just a “glass” but a couple of bottles. But when I saw them I thought, “Gail sure must like to drink wine.”
Of course that’s before I’d even met Joe, or had gotten serious about wine. Now, in retrospect, Gail’s Cork Mountain doesn’t seem that big at all, more like a little hill. When we moved back to Texas from Ohio, I had a dilemma. My mother lives across the street and doesn’t drink at all. She comes over for dinner on occasion and the last thing I wanted was my tee-totalling Mom thinking that I’d become and/or married a lush. So the mountain of corks was out.
Instead, as Joe mentioned, we started filling glass bowls. And when our old cat Armand decided to knock them all over the floor every night, Joe suggested I use them to make trivets and trays. Then we got a catalog from one of the on-line wine accessory retailers that offered kits. So I ordered one and made this serving tray.
This is one of my first efforts, back in our less adventurous days of wine tasting. And in this tray I used the corks I thought “looked cool” versus those that came from wines we thought “fabulous.” The kits come with glue, as well as a plexi-glass sheet to insert. The sheet is needed in this one, because I didn’t do the best job either spacing the corks, or making them even. However, one of the cats, either the dear departed Armand, or the evil Monster, jumped on said tray and cracked the plexiglass. We’ve yet to replace it.
There are also trivet kits you can order here.. Because the corks are more rectangular than square, A step-by-step discussion of the square trivet kit advises looking for a trivet kits that are shaped more like this one, than a perfect square.
My next project is to make some new cork wreaths for our front door. I saw a big one I liked at a new wine bar in the area where the corks all stick out like a porcupine. That will probably take at least a few months worth of corks! If I ever get around to making it, perhaps I’ll do a step-by-step like Joe did with his business/place card holders. Or for the cost of a good bottle of Napa Cab, you can just buy one. Wine Enthusiast sells an already made Wine Cork Wreath here.
Please share your wine cork crafts with us as well — because I would guess we’re not going to run out of them any time soon!
~Amy Corron Power,