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DIY: Cork shoe mat

By Aldona Bird

Picture this — you come in from the rain, shoes dripping. You leave them near the door where they create a puddle that mixes with some dirt and now you have to mop the floor.

 Before mopping you sit down and pop open a bottle of wine. Wait! Don’t throw the cork away! 

 Save corks (made of real cork, not plastic), for multiple DIYs, including this one to keep those wet shoes off the floor while they dry.

 You can use corks and a bit of hot glue to make trivets, bulletin boards, decorative containers for potted plants and more.

A serrated knife works well to cut corks.

 To make a cork shoe drying mat, you will need: 

  • corks 
  • hot glue 
  • painted plywood

 Determine the size of your mat by how many pairs of shoes you will want to dry at a time. For a single pair,  a 12×12-inch mat would work well, especially in a small space. Add eight to 12 inches of width to the mat for each additional pair of adult shoes you want to dry.

 Cut a piece of plywood to the size mat you want, and paint it to keep it from splintering or rotting over time. Pick a paint to match the room you will keep the mat in, or a neutral color to complement the color of the natural corks.

 If you are making a small mat or have many corks you can glue them standing upright to cover the board. If you don’t have enough corks to cover the board, or if you want a shorter mat anyway, cut the corks in half.

 A serrated knife works well to cut corks. Glue the cut side to the board, exposing the ends for a consistent finish. If using hot glue, you only need a dot on each to secure it — if some corks feel wobbly or loose add a dot of glue to the side as well to secure it to its neighboring cork.

 Mix and match different sized and colored corks or make a pattern. Corks from red wine will have a pink or purple stained side. These colorful ends can also be used to make a pattern.

 If you like the appearance of the sides of the corks rather than the ends, secure the corks horizontally rather than vertically. You can line them all up in the same direction, or alternate directions in groups of two, to create a parquet pattern.

 If the mat will be on a floor susceptible to scratches, glue pieces of cork to the bottom corners as well. If your mat is particularly long, you may want to glue cork feet in the center of the bottom, too.

 The same ways of arranging corks work for making a bulletin board or trivet — simply omit the plywood and glue the corks to each other.

 Cork is harvested from cork oak trees, which grow mostly in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The harvest is usually sustainable — after the cork trees are 25-30 years old they can be stripped of the useful layer every nine years (or when they regenerate enough cork).

 Even though cork is a renewable resource, there is no sense sending wine bottle corks to the landfill — ask your friends and family to save them for you, and make useful or decorative items to give these little chunks of trees more life.

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