Brooklyn-based designer and educator Daniel Michalik specializes in working with cork. Obsessed with finding new ways to shape the material, he spent a week traveling around Portugal to document how cork is made from the independent harvesting farms in Alentejo, to the factories of the countries largest cork manufacture Amorim where all the scrap material is used as biomass fuel to power the plants.
300,000 tons of cork is produced globally every year and 52.5% of this comes from Portugal. Harvesting a crop can only happen once every nine years. It's critical to peel the bark off carefully as damaging the new layer underneath will destroy the trees value, highly skilled workers use a special axe called the Machada and can strip a tree in about 10 minutes.
Checkout our gallery to see how wine bottle cork stoppers are made (representing about 60% of all cork based production), sheet material for flooring, and the molding of dark cork insulation blocks. And stay tuned for Daniels in depth look at cork manufacturing on the blog in the next few next weeks.