My name is Oriana and I started Grapes of Wreath in 2017. I live in the beautiful Central West of New South Wales, Australia. Over the Blue Mountains, Bathurst is famous for the Mount Panorama race track which brings hundreds of thousands of people to the city every year.
5 years ago, like a lot of people, I found a huge bag of corks in my garage and it only seemed to be growing the more champagne we popped. Many of them were corks after a stressful day at work, but there were many from special occasions; anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. Again, like lots of people, I thought “I’m going to do something with them one day!”. And then the day came.
Weeks before Christmas 2014, I realised that we didn’t have a wreath for our front door. I spotted a bag of corks and low and behold, the two came together. So off I went to my local hardware and craft shop to look for various glues and faux Christmas foliage. I created something amazing with all the corks that meant so much to us. We still look at it and can remember individual events.
Over the next two years I experimented with various designs, cork types, densities, cutting techniques and shaping, all completely by hand. I absolutely loved this process. I was able to let my creativity flow into a medium that is so rare and unique. The sourcing of enough corks was the difficult bit. I started having to collect corks from friends. I even advertised for anyone who had a ‘bag of corks’, like my initial bag. Fortunately, I managed to get a few but it was never enough.
My husband and I have been amateur champagne ‘connoisseurs’ for over 12 years. As well as the more well known champagne labels, we import bottles of rarer and hardly seen bottles from all over the Champagne region. We taste these bottles and have an extensive book of tasting notes to go with each one. We even visited the Champagne region in 2012 and enjoyed tasting at a huge range of cellar doors.
One champagne cork wreath can take up to 180 corks. Still wine bottles, particularly in Australia, are now extensively screw-cap variety and unfortunately an increasingly number of sparkling wines are following suit. Wine bottles containing corks have become extremely uncommon.
I now have to buy corks in from all over the world to keep my vision going.
I worked; creating, thinking, cutting, designing, sculpturing, gluing, hanging, and photographing. The designs, themes and accessories kept coming. Scores of them. Admired by everyone for their originality, rarity and ingenuity.
The custom orders are amazing. One of the highlights of my process was using friends, family, guests and wait staff to collect all of the corks from my beautiful friends Kate and Rupert’s wedding. I had guests sign the corks and made a wreath using the colour theme of the wedding. The wreath had so much love in it from all of us and is a wonderful keepsake.
I realised that I could create something to treasure. The collection process at any special celebration is not difficult, and you can see in My Gallery I can do almost anything with corks!
I began to think of other options for corks. After extensive research, I found very few pieces of designer cork art freely available to buy globally.
This evolved into the creation of art boards. Not just an ordinary parquet flooring style cork board but a custom designed, sculptured and crafted work of craftsmanship and beauty.
I started thinking of 3D curves, cross hatch, variegated stained ends, strong lines, geometric shapes and mixed coloured circles on a board. My designs come to me in the middle of meetings at work, while I jog, or just before I go to sleep. Once I am satisfied, I have the right design the board is then measured up and marked out.
Depending on the design, I must sometimes hand dye corks. Many corks have natural wine stains on the ends of them, but sometimes I want the whole cork to be stained. Another part of the process which all takes time.
All of the measuring, cutting and fitting of each section is done first. This can be the most time-consuming part of the process.
After completion I hang them in my studio and for a few weeks to critically reviewing the look and feel of the piece before varnishing and finally carefully packaging and sending them to anywhere in the world.
This is cork art. These boards are multi-functional. They are always noticed and are a sensational talking point. They can be a corkboard-with-a-difference if that’s what you want them to be. They can hang vertically or horizontally. They can be custom designed to blend in with shapes and tones of your home or work place. They will be a stunning addition to your home, board-room, restaurant or winery. They will be a feature piece of art and design.
Most importantly, they are made with creativity and flair, originality and imagination and love.