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  • Nancy

When Art and Wine Combine, a Wine Cork Can Become Jewelry

I have a large collection of art supplies and wine cork. Lots and lots of wine cork. But this makes sense since two of my passions are art and wine. My art supplies are nicely organized in my studio, but my corks are a different story. When I first started saving corks, I put them in this flat rectangular glass vase to create a cool looking display on top of a wine rack.

But before I knew it, it filled up quickly and I needed somewhere else to store future corks. I bought a huge wooden bowl at Pottery Barn, put it on top of the refrigerator, and started tossing corks into that. As you can see, the bowl is pretty full now too – so full in fact, that if I shut the fridge door a bit too hard a wine cork or two will come raining down.

I’m sure there are a few behind the fridge that we’ll discover years from now. Wine cork storage then moved to a mosaic glass hurricane vase on an art cabinet in my studio.

That vase isn’t very big though. We’re now at the point of opening our wine bottles and just tossing corks into and around one of our other wine racks.

This leads me to sharing how I came up with the idea of making jewelry out of wine cork and how that inspired several other collections of wine-inspired jewelry – the perfect pairing of art and wine!

One night, I was trying to come up with a use for my overabundance of corks. I found lots of craft ideas on Pinterest, from trivets to bath mats. However, I’m drawn to jewelry and everything sparkly, so I started thinking about whether I could combine my love of art and wine and make a piece of jewelry from wine cork. I grabbed a handful from the bowl on top of the fridge and gathered some craft supplies -- paint, bits of fabric, beads, etc. After playing around with different configurations, I came up with my first prototype.

I liked it, but something wasn’t quite right. I found it a little too clunky, and I didn’t love the obviousness of wearing a whole wine cork around my neck. I started envisioning a more delicate piece, something less blatant that would show the rustic texture but not scream of its origins.

And that brought me to the wine cork pieces I make today.

I transform wine corks into unique, one-of-a-kind statement pieces. It takes several hours to hand-cut, hand-paint, and embellish each intricate piece with genuine Swarovski crystals, sparkly glass beads, fabric, pewter charms, and other components, so no two pieces are exactly alike. Also, the minor imperfections in cork itself gives each piece an added level of uniqueness. Little nooks and crevices are characteristic of both the natural beauty of the cork and the process of cutting and finishing each piece by hand. It’s the perfect pairing of art and wine! When I wear a cork necklace in public, people are always surprised when I tell them what it’s made from, and they want to touch it and see for themselves. They often remark how deceptively lightweight it is in spite of its solid appearance.

I like finding a new use for something that would otherwise have been thrown out. Wine cork jewelry is eco-friendly – not only am I repurposing used wine corks, but also cork itself is a natural and sustainable material which is harvested from the bark of the cork tree while the tree continues to live. In addition to that, I use primarily non-toxic glues and paints – including wine – to tint the corks.

You can visit In the Studio to see how I make these pieces, and visit the Cork Collection to see all of the variations!