Infest the Waters: A Blog About Design, Life and Making Stuff

What Does One Do With Hundreds of Corks?

Cork bathmat in progress

Ever since moving to Philadelphia in 2001, I’ve been saving corks from wine bottles.  They seemed useful, and although I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, I was sure I’d come up with something.  While visiting a friend many many years ago, I noticed that he had a lovely wreath made from wine corks similar to this one, so for a while I assumed I would make a nice wreath once I collected enough corks.

The only problem was that once I had accumulated enough corks to make a wreath, I realized that I didn’t really want or need a wreath.  Wall space is at a premium in my house between my artwork and friends’ artwork hanging on the walls, and I’m not really the kind of person who has wreaths hanging in her house year-round anyway.  So there I was, with a big bag of wine corks and no plan for what to do with them.

I took to the interwebs for inspiration, and I found numerous trivet projects.  I already have a lovely cork trivet that my aunt and uncle made for me as a housewarming gift many years ago, and I would’ve had to make dozens of trivets to use up the corks I had accumulated.  I kept looking, and I stumbled upon an interesting little project to make a bath mat over on  It seemed like the perfect project–utilitarian but cute, and it required a whole lotta corks.

I decided that was a good use of the corks, so I set to work.  The only problem was that the how-to guide suggested that you cut the corks the long way by hand with a sharp pocket knife.  After attempting to cut one cork with my trusty Leatherman, I determined that (1) I valued my fingers too much, and (2) I lacked the patience to cut through a couple hundred corks by hand.  (I think the woman who wrote that post either had the patience of a saint or a serious mental disorder to cut them all by hand.  Plus, I noticed that there are no pictures of her hands after completing the project.  It’s quite possible that she only has three fingers left.)

I had almost abandoned the project when Ben suggested he could make a jig to cut the corks with a chop saw.  Sweet.  Project’s back on.

Ben sawing corksSo a couple of weekends ago when we were looking for something to do (because, you know, we have trouble doing normal things, like go to a movie or see a show), Ben chopped some corks, and I started gluing.  Check out Ben getting his saw on at left.  (Oh, and don’t worry, Ben’s finger isn’t in a splint because he chopped off part of it with the saw.  He just tore a ligament–completely non-wine cork related, and kind of a huge bummer.)

Gluing is pretty mindless work, but it is pretty satisfying to use a hot glue gun.  However, eventually the boredom got to me, and I had to stop.  I finally had the chance to finish the project tonight, and I’m pretty happy with the end result (see below).  Now I have a new bath mat and I got rid of all those corks.  Let’s just hope this bath mat doesn’t wear out in the next 11 years before I’ve collected enough corks to make another one.

Finished cork bathmat

Leave a Comment

Let us know your thoughts on this post but remember to place nicely folks!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: