If you drink wine, you either toss the corks after opening the bottle or if you’re like a lot of people I know, you throw it in a glass bowl or jar for “decor” or to save for a future project. My husband has been saving wine corks for years and I would say we probably have at least a thousand at this point…(I thought a thousand sounded like a lot so having a certain anal streak, I had to investigate and count.) Turns out (believe me, I counted) that we have way more than a thousand…this crate alone has 1,179 corks. We have 3 more crates like this filled to the top and 3 huge vases that hold 2 crates worth. Maybe we should open a winery? Or slow down on the sipping?
They are stored in drawers, vases, bowls, crates and under all the furniture (from all those nights we open a bottle and toss the cork to the cats.) We, obviously, have a lot. I’ve run out of storage space and decided it’s time to do something with them. But, I’m not the most “crafty” person so I need simple projects that require little work and basic tools (for those of you who live to craft, there’s more complicated projects too.)
In a very short time, about 30 minutes, I tried out some of the easier projects just to see how difficult/easy they were. These are not “finished” projects in the sense that I would spend a little more time and effort for a “real” craft. Here’s some fun and practical ways you can use those corks…
CABINET DOORS/FURNITURE LEGS
If you have cabinet doors that are missing bumpers, or they never had them to begin with, they tend to slam shut, and create quite a bit of noise. To keep them from slamming shut, simply create a “bumper” by slicing a cork into several 1/8″-thick discs, then glue one inside each door on the top and bottom corners. You can also stabilize wobbly furniture by measuring the gap that’s creating the problem, then cut a round of cork to the same thickness and glue it to the bottom of the leg. This also makes great floor protectors. Glue a cork round you’ve cut off, glue it to the bottom of chair legs (or any furniture legs) and you can move it around without scratching the floors.
Our cats love chasing and playing with anything and everything that moves; hence all the corks we find under the furniture. You can simply toss them on the floor or try this for even more added fun; use a screwdriver to create a hole in the top of the cork and fill it up with some catnip. You can then toss it to kitty or tie a string around the cork and hang it from a doorknob.
POUR SPOUT/BOTTLE STOPPER
I buy a lot of glass bottles I use for vinegars and oils from Goodwill and garage sales that usually don’t have the glass bottle stopper. I don’t want dust or cat hair getting into them though so I simply pop a cork in it and voila, it’s safe. The spouts on some olive-oil bottles allow the liquid to spill out too quickly. To make it easier to pour the perfect amount of oil, cut a 1/4″-deep wedge down the length of one side of a cork, then put the cork into the bottle.
KEEP PLANTS WATERED
Corks retain moisture so they are an excellent material to use in garden beds and household plants. Simply chop up corks in a food processor and mix the bits in your potting soil or flower bed dirt. The absorbent material will hold in moisture and since cork has antimicrobial properties, it will help prevent mold growth.
CARD HOLDERS/PLACE SETTINGS
This is so easy to do! Simply cut a slit down the length of a cork and you have a creative card holder. You can make simple place settings using corks too. Cut out whatever shape you want from heavy card stock or really any type of paper you want to use, write your guest name on it and place it on your dining table when you have company over and there will be no confusion over where to sit.
For fun stamps, that you use with ink or paint, carve a shape into the end of a cork and then dip in ink or paint. I tried doing this with letters but my hand was too shaky (had a lot of coffee but what’s new), and I think an X-Acto knife would work best, which I couldn’t find.
Using a needle and fishing line, you can string corks together to make a garland. String a few seasonal additions, like cranberries, along with the corks for holiday garlands. You can make a cork wreath by simply gluing corks on any type of wreath form…cut out a wreath shape from a heavy box and you’ll save even more money. For someone who has a lot of patience, you could string corks end to end on fishing line, using a needle, to make cool “beaded” curtains.
If you keep your knives in a drawer you run the risk of someone getting injured whenever they reach in for something. Cut a slit along the side of a wine cork, then slide the tip of the blade inside. To keep all your knives together in the drawer, cut a slit in each cork and then glue however many corks you want together side by side. You could also make a hanging knife storage piece by attaching string or wire to the back of the side by side, slit corks and hanging it on your wall.
Here’s an easy way to get a roaring campfire going. Place a few corks in a jar and add enough rubbing alcohol to cover. Let soak for about an hour before you plan on lighting the fire. Next, place the corks under your logs and use a long match to ignite the stoppers. The corks will absorb the flammable alcohol so they’ll fire up quickly and keep the flames going strong.
For an easy and cheap way for your guests to easily recognize cheeses, beverages or any kind of food you’re serving at a buffet, simply slit the cork like you did for the place/card holders and add your tag. Glue some twine or a ribbon to the cork, label the cork and tie it around a decanter for beverages.
To sand curves on a piece of furniture easier, try wrapping the sandpaper around a cork. The rounded shape will make it easier to control the paper around the curves with less effort.
Keep all your pins, needles, tacks, etc. together by simply pushing them into a cork. You could also keep earrings you’ve lost the backs to contained this way. Slip over knitting needles when not in use and prevent someone from getting poked.
Of course you can simply keep your “important” corks in a decorative bowl or vase when decorating. If you want to remember a special occasion when you drank the wine, write the date and place you enjoyed it on the side of the cork.
CLEAN YOUR KNIVES
To keep your carbon steel knives clean and sharp, (dishwashers can dull them), wet the blade end of your knife and one end of a cork. Apply a bit of cleanser to the blade and rub the end of the cork over the blade. (Rinse and dry.)
Add corks to a candle holder or make a floating wine cork centerpiece by adding water to a vase, toss in some corks, flowers, votive candles, etc., (anything that floats and goes with your “theme”).
Ok, for those really crafty people…you can use corks like you would wood or any other material to build things. Army forts (the small ones…even though I think I have enough I could create a life-size one for the grandkids!), birdhouses, doll houses…
You can create trivets, corkboards or coasters by gluing the corks inside an empty frame or simply by gluing them together in whatever size and shape you want. Cork is also heat/fire resistant and absorbs water. Perfect for keeping your counters and tables safe from hot pans or rings.
Make unique signs by gluing corks on whatever material you choose or buy the large cut out wood letters from your local craft store (or make them yourself if you have the equipment) and then glue the corks on them.
And if you don’t want to make crafts with your corks, recycle them.