Cork It: Artist Ben Sostrom

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From the April 2014 edition

It started with a phone call. One of Ben Sostrom’s friends needed costume horns in a pinch. Sostrom, an Ohio State graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees—and competing interests—in theater and astronomy, had been crafting stage props since high school (back then, for his friends’ no-budget movies; more recently, for CATCO’s production of “Shipwrecked!”). So he grabbed some spare wine corks, a “very, very sharp” X-Acto knife and improvised. The horns were a hit, and Sostrom was soon coaxed into marketing his craft—with an Arch City twist.

In December, he launched a line of ornaments at repurposed-crafts shop Glean on High Street in the Short North. Priced between $45 and $60, the pocket-size renderings of Columbus landmarks are whittled entirely from natural and synthetic wine

corks and coated with acrylic paint. The LeVeque Tower (Art Deco nuances included) and the Japanese-influenced Toledo and Ohio Central Railway station are among his favorites. “Some people think I use a magnifying glass or machinery,” he says. “But these are totally freehand.”

Also at Glean, Sostrom’s selling a line of light-bulb terrariums ($30). He guts and cleans old light bulbs, forges support systems from twine, coat hangers and copper wire and packs them with soil and mini succulents. “It’s about cost efficiency, but it’s also to reuse stuff that would otherwise be going into a landfill,” he says of his work. “They’re ordinary, kind of industrial materials that don’t get a second look. It’s about being able to repurpose them and look at them in a completely different way.” shopglean.com