Exploring Cork

CorkProcessImages

Material Research: Black Cork

  • Weather Resistant
  • Fire Resistant (EU Class E)
  • Mold Resistant
  • Exothermic (Warm to touch)

Existing Process:

  • Soft and Flexible
  • Toasted Oaky Smell
  • Easy to Machine / Sand
  • Renewable / Sustainable 
Cork Autoclaves

Black cork, or expanded cork uses the by product from the wine cork industry. Leftover, or undesirable pieces are ground and placed into an industrual autoclave. Super-heated steam is injected into the mold holding the cork and the natural resins in the cork cells called suberin bonds the cork together.

Question: Can this process be replicated in a studio environment?

Why do it?

  • Ability to Mold Custom Shapes
  • Indoor/Outdoor Use
  • Reduction in Waste
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive

Proof of Concept:

 result: Possible

 
SampleFirst
 

Actual Testing:

Block Test16
samplesamples
Sample 22
AllSamples

 Results: A repeatable process for bonding granules using it’s natural resins (suberin) without the need of additional bonding agents and without using dangerous, expensive, and complex equipment.

 

Application:

I knew I wanted to make something that would highlight the ability to mold the cork, and it’s all weather characteristics. I also wanted to make something reasonable, as this would be the first time I would attempt an object at a larger scale. 

I decided on a small stool with the frame embedded into the cork seat. The frame is stainless steel and is held in place by being molded into the seat.

Stool on bench
FrameStool
 
A small stool made of cork and stainless steel.

A small stool made of cork and stainless steel.

Continued Works: 

CorkStool2

This was a second stool based off the first stool. The ‘cooking’ time was better resolved, as well as improvements to the mold.

_AAA0734.jpg
CorkDining
CafeCork

This was the first fully developed chair I made using the cork process. Again I used stainless steel so it can be used inside or outside.

 

This was the first fully developed chair I made using the cork process. Again I used stainless steel so it can be used inside or outside.

 

I made a cafe set, and couldn’t not use cork as it embodies everything you need in a cafe chair. Comfort, durability, warmth and so on.

Update:

IMG_5800.jpg

This piece of cork was one of my early samples and it has been sitting outside enduring the New England sun, rain, and snow for 2 years. So far so good. There is a little discolor on the side that is up. I assume that is from UV exposure. The adhesion appears to have has gotten stronger overtime, and I’m not sure why.