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5 Things About Cork

The bark is resistant, soft and renewable – a potted history of a timeless natural product.

1

The Tree

In its first 12 to 20 years the cork oak (Quercus suber) produces ‘virgin cork’ (liège mâle). This maiden cork is rough, inelastic and only has limited usability. It is removed, by hand, and after the course of a further decade or so, the ‘reproduction cork’, (liege femelle) is able to grow. The cork is then ‘peeled with a special axe every 7 to 12 years. It is from the third and subsequent harvests that cork with the best properties is obtained – the ‘amadia‘ cork – from trees a good 50 years old, the best of which can be found is from Portugal and on the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

2

In Miniature Modelling

Antonio Chichi (1743–1816) could be considered the forebear of all model railroaders, simply because he miniaturised reality. Under contract from German Princes and influenced by the 18th century desire for all things Italian, he modelled fascinating, precisely-detailed replicas of antique architecture in cork.

3

As Soles

Firm yet flexible; long before humankind walked on rubber, cork soles were the more comfortable, kinder alternative to stiff, hardy leather. Cork made fashion history when it was used for wedges and 1961 it was patented by Birkenstock for use as a foot bed insole, still popular and comfortable today.

4

As Floor Covering

It is a common consensus that cork flooring is warmer, softer and quieter than parquet, which is precisely why it is often chosen as a natural alternative. The next level of wood effect flooring is Cork+, an attractive flooring made from densely printed layers of cork on HDF boards.

5

As Corks

For wine connoisseurs, the cork is as quintessential as the pop made when the wine is opened. It allows a delicate transfer of air, crucial for the perfectly-matured wine. If the wine has been lying in the cellar for decades, large châteaux have been known to replace the old cork with a new one.