What’s your background and is this your full-time job?
I grew up in North-West Michigan, and I always loved building and drawing. After high school I headed to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo to study art and education. For the past 10 years I’ve been teaching high school art, carving out a few hours a week during the school year to make my own art and a few more hours during the summer.
How many pieces of “cork art” have you already done?
“Trisha” is my third piece (and smallest) of the three pieces I’ve created. My first portrait in wine corks was of my wife Jeanne and used a total of 3842 wine corks.
A year later I created a portrait of a friend from Rwanda, named Grace that used 9,217 wine corks. I’m in the beginning stages of creating my biggest piece yet, a self portrait that will probably require 12,000 to 15,000 corks. The bigger I create a piece, the more detail I can include. I very much like my smaller pieces, yet they present many challenges in creating accurate, interesting portraits.
How did you get the idea to use corks for your art?
I made my first wine cork portrait in 2009, however the idea came two years earlier in the summer of 2007. I had been traveling in Africa, and I was inspired by the resourcefulness of the people I met.. They made use of everything they had, reusing items that most people would consider trash, they recycled and created tools, clothing and art out these items. In America we would call this “up-cycling” but to them its just common-sense to use these things again, their ingenuity was inspiring and made me wonder what things am I throwing away that might be put to good use in my art. Drinking a glass of wine on the way home from that trip I did some sketches of what a wine cork portrait might look like.
How long does your “average” piece take?
It’s hard to say, but for a small piece like “Trisha” I would spend 2 or 3 weeks. Once all the beginning work is done (drawing the image, shooting the nails, building the frame) the actual placement of the corks goes quite quickly.
Can people hire you to make a piece of your art of them? What’s the average cost?
I do occasionally accept commissions. Their are a lot of variables that determine the cost I charge for a portrait. If people are curious about commissioning or purchasing a future piece they can email ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you get your hands on some many used corks?
Each piece take thousands of corks. For my first piece I collected corks for 2 years before I had about 5,000 corks to sort through to create my piece Jeanne. Once people started see what I was doing the corks came in quicker and quicker. Just this week a woman from England shipped a box of corks to me that she had been saving for years. A friend has also started a cork recycling program at a local wine shop. Even with all the corks that I have coming in I can always use more.
How can people send their wine corks to you?
Like I said I ALWAYS need more corks. If you know anyone who would like their corks to be a part of my next piece, have them email me: email@example.com. I would love to send them a small sign print in exchange for their corks!