I have been in Rome for 6 years.
One of the first Italian words I ever learned was “corkscrew.”
I recently rounded up the best wine bars in Rome.
All of this to set the stage so that you understand: I. Drink. Wine.
And for the last 6 years, I have also saved all of the corks from those bottles of wine. Faced with a mounting number of corks in various glass vases, I was on the hunt for something festive to do with the evidence of my love for vino.
You are going to need a straw wreath and a glue gun with glue sticks. (I bought mine on Amazon). For some reason, straw wreaths are crazy expensive in Italy, so I carried mine back with me from America. (Clear packing priorities). You can also use a foam wreath, but I personally prefer the straw.
First things first, to create an even cork wreath, you have to start from the interior.
If you have champagne or prosecco corks, start with those. They are larger than wine corks, so mixing them together is going to leave you with a lopsided wreath. You will want to complete each ring with either large corks or normal wine corks – not a mix of the two.
Apply a healthy line of hot glue to one side of the cork.
Then press to the straw and hold firmly for a few seconds to allow the cork and glue to set.
From there, add more corks, leaving no space in between them as you start to complete the interior ring.
I needed 20 corks to complete one row of the interior. I went with two layers of prosecco corks – so 40 in total.
When the gap starts to narrow, and you are coming close to finishing a row, you have to start thinking a lot more carefully about fit.
With about 3 corks to go, stop and measure. Find the combination of corks that will best fill the remaining space. This kind of precision doesn’t matter much for most of the ring, but if you don’t think about how to close the circle, you will end up with a gap.
Above, you can see I left a space in the back. Essentially, I ran out of prosecco corks and knew that if I used regular bottle corks, the width would be off.
We were heading to a Thanksgiving dinner that evening, so I waited and collected the celebratory corks from friends, THEN finished the ring.
As I come close to completing a ring, I usually place the corks in the remaining space without glue until I find the best combination, then glue them down.
Once your interior circles are complete, simply keep going row by row.
Make sure you are pushing the corks into the straw, but also up against the last concentric circle you completed. This will keep the rows growing out naturally and stop them from taking a wonky, meandering order.
As you move towards the outside of the wreath, you will need more corks to complete a full loop.
If my first circles took 20 corks, my outer rings took 35.
All in all, I needed about 200 corks for a 16 inch wreath. You can use a smaller wreath frame for less corks and an easier spacing task – 10 or 12 inches is a good place to start.
If you do end up with gaps, place some extra corks at different angles to add some more visual interest.
Simply play around and see there they go best – then glue them on top of your existing rows:
And now you are ready for Christmas — who is bringing the wine?