Two California couples, Jim and Mary Lambert of Carmichael, and Bob and Di Nelson of Fair Oaks, have spent the last three years making a life-size rhinoceros sculpture out of plywood, foam and 12,000 wine corks.
It all started one day, three years ago, when Mary told her husband Jim to take up a hobby. Instead of choosing a typical passtime like fishing or woodworking, Jim immediately thought of the thousands of wine corks he had been collecting for the past 20 years, and said ‘OK, I will build a giraffe out of corks.’ But then he realized giraffes are 20 feet tall and quickly changed his idea. ”I said, ‘Mary, forget the giraffe, we’re going to build a rhinoceros,’ ” Lambert told the Sacramento Bee. Jim’s sole artistic experience was an art class he had taken back in college, but Bob Nelson and his wife Di, old friends of the Lamberts, were eager to jump on board as soon as they heard about the quirky project. They put up their garage as a work space, and Bob, who was an architect, started working on the frame of the artwork. Using an online photo of a rhinoceros as a guide for proportions and size, Nelson crafted the structural frame from plywood and added pieces of plastic foam to give it the appropriate shape. All that was left to do was cover the whole 12-foot-long sculpture with Jim’s wine corks.
Photo: Randall Benton/sacbee.com
The two families applied many of the corks themselves as a way to pass the time, but over the three years it took to complete the artwork, eighty-three friends and family members of the two couples glued corks on the rhino. ”It turned into more of a social thing,” Jim Lambert said. “For a nice Sunday afternoon, come on over and have some fun.” In the end, it took around 12,000 wine corks to completely cover the “Rhinocirrhosis”, named after the liver disease often caused by heavy drinking.
After seeing the cork masterpiece, a few friends of the Nelsons’ from Michigan suggested they enter it in the annual ArtPrize competition. If they win, they take home the $200,000 grand prize, but Jim hopes to at least be able to sell Rhinocirrhosis and donate the proceeds to a series of charities, including the International Rhino Foundation to draw attention to the endangered species.