From a young age, Kim Antell has seen the value in recycling and upcycling—taking everyday items and reusing them, making something old new again. She and her mom spent a lot of time crafting together, and her dad showed her the way around the garage workshop, both paving the way for her creative future.
Finding her niche happened by chance when a family member saw a monogram made from used wine corks on Pinterest and asked her to create one. Working in a restaurant, Kim had plenty of access to discarded wine corks, and it didn’t take long to collect enough for the project. “My first cork project took me hours…cutting, placing, moving around pieces… It was like working a giant puzzle to see what fit where and what looked best. But I loved the idea of turning trash into treasure.” The end result was a one-of-a-kind monogram “A” displayed in the family’s wine and coffee bar.
“After posting pictures of that project on Facebook, people I knew started asking me for their own cork monograms. And it just grew from there,” she says. “I just started building and set up a booth at the local farmers’ market to see how much interest there was in the community. I knew I hadn’t seen anything like it when I went to the craft fairs. I’ve had a booth at Shakerag Arts and Crafts Festival in Peachtree City several times, and it’s still one of my favorite events. I just love being out there talking to people and answering questions! And truth be told, I love the people and dog watching.”
There were challenges at first of finding the right tools for the job—the best kind of knife for cutting and the right glue, wood, and embellishments for each project—and gathering an inventory of materials. “After a while, people started offering me their collections, just to get rid of them,” she says. “So many people keep their corks, but no one ever does anything with them! I decided to use that as an opportunity to turn people’s collections into something beautiful. I have people tell me all the time that they want to make their own ‘whatever’, but they don’t have the time, or even the motivation to actually do it. That’s where I come in!”
Kim’s most memorable creation was a plaque of the state of Georgia. “I had a Georgia plaque on display at one of the outdoor markets I was doing, and when the clients saw it, they got so excited and asked me if I could customize one with the corks they had saved from all the Georgia wineries they had visited.
It was so cool to see their happy reaction when I got it done and gave it to them. It means more to people when they know they had a part in the project. And, of course, the fun they had getting the corks.” Six years later, Kim’s cork business, Home DeCork, is still going strong creating custom pieces while keeping an inventory of favorites on hand in her booth at Heirloom Market Co. in Sharpsburg. “I put a cork on just about anything now… Christmas ornaments, birdhouses, necklaces, lanterns, you name it. I’m always open to new ideas. I tell people, ‘If you can imagine it, I can probably cork it’.”
Visit the Home DeCork Facebook page (facebook.com/homedecork) to see more of her projects, or visit her booth at Heirloom Market Co. & Bakeshop.