I could never bear to throw away the corks from old wine bottles, although Katharine was understandably sceptical about the idea I would ever find a use for them. There used to be a recycling scheme (perhaps there still,is, but if so I’ve lost track of it). Over the years the message about corks changed too; at one stage we were being told not to buy cheaper bottles with corks, so that supplies could be kept for the first-growth clarets and so on that really needed it. Then the message was that we should buy anything with corks in order to save the industry, the cork oaks, and the unique biological environment that went with them. Anyway, I feel I’ve been vindicated because I’ve now made place mats with my collection!
I drilled two little holes through each cork with a dremel, and strung them together with fine wire, using tiny wooden beads to fasten off the ends. It would have been possible to string each one with a single wire, but you would have seen the wires crossing some of the diagonals, which I didn’t like. The result is perhaps slightly rustic, more suitable for barbecues and other outdoor eating than your fancy dining table, but I’m pretty pleased overall.