How To Recycle Wine Corks Into a Kids Pirate Ship
Have your kids ever read a book or seen a movie and immediately fallen so in love with one aspect of the storyline that they suddenly want to incorporate that person or idea into just about anything they do? Well, our kids go through a phase like this with new and different things just about any time they see an exciting new movie or hear a new story for the first time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t one or two themes that have really stuck around. Whenever this happens, I always try to find cute, easy ways to incorporate whatever the thing they love most in that moment is into our “crafternoons”, just to keep them feeling as excited as possible about DIY projects and their other interests all a once. Lately they’ve had a rather pervasive interest in pirates, which is how I came up with this super cool DIY wine cork pirate ship idea that actually floats!
By now, our kids have made so many of these funny little cork pirate ships that they practically run a whole fleet. As usual, I made sure to document the whole DIY process of how they’re made so I could share it with other crafty parents whose kids love pirates and pirate ships just as much as ours do. Check out these step by step instructions complete with photos! If you’d rather follow along with a video tutorial instead of written words, scroll to the bottom of this post to find just what you’re looking for.
For this project, you’ll need:
- Three wine bottle corks
- Felt (gray, black, and white)
- A black marker
- Hot glue
- A wooden kebab skewer
Gather your materials!
First, cut out a two inch by two inch square from your white felt and use your black marker to draw the shape of a skull and the shape of cross bones, complete with eye sockets and tooth details; this will be part of your ship’s pirate flag. Cut the skull and cross bones out and set them aside for a moment.
Cut two long strips from your grey felt. These will be the “ropes” that hold your cork ship together. I made mine about a centimetre wide and the whole length of my felt sheet’s shorter edge.
Cut a rectangle about two inches by three inches from your sheet of black felt. Turn the rectangle so it is taller than it is wide and cut a slight angle into the tall sides of your rectangle to make it shaped more like a parallelogram instead. This will be the base of your pirate ship’s sail, with the more narrow end at the top and the wider end at the bottom. Next, pick your black felt sheet up again and cut a triangle that’s about two inches wide on the bottom and and sides that run on even diagonal sides up to a point that’s right above the centre of the triangle’s bottom edge. A really easy way to do this is to cut a square, fold it in half side to side, and then use your scissors to cut diagonally from one bottom corner, across to the opposite top corner. When you open it, you’ll have the right triangular shape we just talked about. This will be the base of the classic little skull and cross bones pirate flag at the top of your sail.
Attach your corks together to make the body of the ship! Apply glue all down the long side of one cork and stick it to the long side of your second cork, keeping the two ends even with each other. Then apply glue in the same spot in the opposite side of that second cork, sticking the third cork into place there. Feel free to use the tabletop as a guide to keep your corks even and flat.
Glue your grey felt strips all the way around your three corks like a bundle, in the same way corks would lash a wooden raft together. Turn the corks on the table so they look stacked on top of one another, with the long side of the bottom one facing you. On the right side, about a centimetre from the ends of the corks, apply a dot of glue in the centre of the one closest to you and stick the end of one of your grey strips down there, anchoring it in a vertical direction but towards you rather than over the corks for now. Bend the strip downwards and forward across the bottom sides of your corks, then up around the other end and back across the tops of the corks, wrapping all the way around the height of your stacked corks. Apply a dot of glue on top of the first end you already anchored down and stick the rest of the strip down there where the two meet, trimming the excess off. Repeat this entire process on the other side, at the other ends of the corks, with your second strip of felt. I decided to flip the corks over so that the spot where I glued the ends down was on the bottom and wouldn’t show on the top of the ship.
Attach your pirate ship’s sail to your wooden kebab skewer, which will be your ship’s mast! Bend your sail in half at the top by evenly meeting its corners up, then use your scissors to make a small cut in the resulting bent side, a centimetre or two lower than the top edge. Slide your skewer down through the hole from the top; the side that your skewer passes down will be the back of the sail and the side where the skewer doesn’t show will be the front of the sail. Leave the kebab pushed partially through and repeat the bending and cutting process at the bottom of the sail, a couple centimetres up from the bottom edge. Then take your wooden skewer and slide its lower end through this bottom hole in the sail, so its end comes back through to the other side again. I adjusted where I wanted the sail to sit on the “mast” in terms of height by sticking the bottom of the skewer (the one that pokes through the wide end of the sail)into the middle cork right in the centre, then pulling it up to where I wanted it to sit. Make sure to leave about an inch at the top of the skewer so there’s still space for your skull and cross bones pirate flag.
Take your “mast” back out of the cork so you can manoeuvre it to attach the pirate flag at the top. Fold the triangular piece in half horizontally by bringing the two points on either side of the long bottom together. This lets you know how much space you have to work with on what will be the front of the final flag. Apply hot glue here on the front and stick down the white felt skull and cross bones that you cut out earlier on. Once your skull and cross bones is in place, open the flag and apply glue along the sides that make up the inside of the flag. Before you close the sides together, put the top tip of the skewer into the centre so it lies at the centre and the sides wrap around the skewer to meet up on the other side. Close the flag sides and stick them together. Finally, apply a bit of glue to the other end of the skewer, below the sail, and stick it back into the centre of the middle cork so it stands straight up like a mast.
Your pirate ship is all all finished! Thanks to the buoyancy of the corks, it will even actually float, which my kids got a huge kick out of. Just in case you’d like to try this project out for yourself, here’s a fantastic tutorial video to help you!