Art & Photography by Courtney Krishnamurthy
Art & Photography by Courtney Krishnamurthy

Functionality, inspiration, & most of all prettiness! in the office

Office Cork Board

The house projects that I’ve put off for so long are slowly being ticked off my list. The latest is my over-involved office corkboard, for which I picked up the corkboards late last year. Then they sat in the garage, wrapped in their plastic, until a few weeks ago when apparently a bee buzzed into my bonnet and I decided what the heck! Let’s get started on this project!

Why would a simple corkboard hung over the desk be such a complex task? Well, in true Madd Hatter style, I couldn’t do simple corkboard.

First: It needed to be the width of the two cabinets that are above the desks.
Second: I might not always want to stick a tack through something – maybe I needed some magnetic areas?
Third: I like to write quick notes to myself. A white board might be useful.
Fourth: It needed to be pretty.
Fifth: It might as well be inspirational while I was at it.

And now you get a sense of why my projects typically snowball into some daunting task that I’m not anxious to start let alone complete.

Office Cork Board

Okay, so requirements 1 & 2: I perused the office materials aisle at Target to see what they had. I knew I needed to make my board 72 inches by 30 inches to fill the space between the cabinets. I had one tiny corkboard, so I picked up 3 more corkboards at Target. These had wooden frames that looked easy enough to pop off the cork (I hoped). They seemed to be cork all the way through – no MDF to saw through on the backside.

Target also had these great little metal boards for your locker. The idea is they are white boards that are also magnetic, but with my plan they would be covered up and only the magnetic part would come into play. They also came with dry eraser markers – score!! One less thing to buy.

Popping the frames off was pretty easy. I found the loosest area of the frame and wedged a small hammer’s claw under the frame and pulled, breaking the frame away. After getting it going, the rest of the frame was easily knocked away, leaving me with large sheets of cork that smelled strongly of Elmer’s Glue.

Next I cut each of the pieces of cork down to the size it needed to be in order to achieve my 72 x 30 inch dimensions. For this I used a utility knife and a metal yard stick to ensure I had straight lines.

Then came the tricky part – however would I get the areas for the metal boards cut out? After laying out my corkboards in what would be their future order, I figured out where I wanted my magnetic spots to be, and traced a line around the tiny metal boards onto the cork. I also numbered the corkboard pieces left to right, top to bottom, so I would know which order they should go in after cutting the holes for the metal to be inserted.

To cut the holes, I used a jigsaw. It worked even better than I’d hoped. The only problem was I needed to continually blow the dust away to see the lines I had made, but any inhalation of the Elmer’s glue-covered cork really hurt. So, deep breath, quick cuts, all while blowing away the cork shreds. No face mask to keep out the dust. Blech!

Finally, I lined up everything one last time to make sure the holes were the right size and the cork would line up perfectly.

Office Cork Board

The next step – one large piece of medium density fiber board (MDF) and gorilla glue. The MDF is thin, not too flimsy, and comes in large sheets, so I cut this down (again with the jigsaw) to the 72 x 30 inches needed. Then, having fun with the gorilla glue, I slathered the MDF with it and glued the cork to the MDF. Last, more glue, and the metal inserts were put in place. Since the gorilla glue is useful on almost any surface, and since it puffs up to make contact, it was perfect for this project. The metal boards had a little space behind them, but between the tight holes they had to fit into, the puffiness of the gorilla glue which grabbed hold of the metal, and being covered tightly in fabric (later), this wasn’t a problem. After getting everything in place, I weighted down all of the pieces and let them dry in the sunshine before hauling this into the house.

Office Cork Board

Unfortunately the next step I forgot to snap a picture of, though I thoroughly intended to. So enjoy a sneak peek of the finished product.

This step was getting the fabric ready for dying. Step 1 was cutting the large piece of fabric to size. Actually, two large pieces of fabric to size since the cotton was a little thin. I immediately wrapped one of the white pieces of fabric around the large board and stapled it to the board. With some of the remnants, I created a 3/4-inch fabric tube that when turned and ironed would become the frame edges that would hold my glass “white board” in place. Glass so you can see through. The quotes and dye would be uniform and uninterrupted.

Next, I laid out the loose piece of large fabric that would be stretching across the entire board, and determined where I wanted the glass pieces to go. Then I carefully pinned the frame pieces in place to see where their corners would exist. I did a simple double stitch across the corners to create the frames, then I again pinned them down to the large piece of fabric, this time setting in place where the frame would be stitched to the large piece of fabric. One more time through the sewing machine, and it was time to dye!

Dying Fabrics

I set up two buckets of dye – one teal, one navy – and pulled out a few strips of remnant cloth. I played in the dye, leaving the fabric in the dye for 5 minute increments to determine how long I needed to leave the fabric in for my desired result.

Up until this point, this project had went really, really smooth. Breezy, in fact. At this point, I forgot to add salt to the dye to ensure my fabric’s color wouldn’t leach out. I also forgot to factor in that I would wash this fabric before stretching it across the board, which led to two problems.

First problem: I intended this to be a much brighter piece of fabric. The lack of salt and the subsequent washing gave this a more muted, sea glass feel. While the resulting color was not what I was initially after, it was pretty, and calming, so I decided this wasn’t such a bad snafu.

The second problem, however, almost sent me into a tailspin of depression. Earlier, I mentioned this was a light cotton fabric. After washing the fabric after its dye bath, I decided drying on permanent press would get me back to working so I could finish this up quickly. Guess where I’m going with this? My board was 72 x 30 inches, and my fabric was more like 69 x30 inches. Crappity-bleeeep-bleepity-@#$%#@$@#!!!!

I walked away for a bit. A lot of work went into this fabric already, and I didn’t want to start over. So I decided to see if I could stretch this enough to actually fit the board. I didn’t think it was possible, but never underestimate the ability of a determined Southern girl, especially this one. Magically, that 69 inch fabric became 72.5 inches – enough to get a staple in the back of the board. WOOOOHOOOO!!! I was back in business!

Office Cork Board

It was quote time. For a few years now, I’ve kept a running list of quotes I love in Google Docs, because, as Dorothy Parker once said, “I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound – if I can remember any of the damn things.” I had slowly culled down a list of 10 or so quotes that were in contention for my board, and as I begin to paint them on with fabric paint, I ended up with 6 quotes:


An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.
– Swami Sivananda

We live in a rainbow of chaos.
– Paul Cezanne

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
– Anaïs Nin

Write drunk; edit sober.
– Ernest Hemingway

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
– Tim Robbins

‎Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
– Pablo Picasso

To ensure these weren’t oddly sized or on a slant, I stretched string across the board, tacking it into the ends. I wrote out all of the quotes first, then went back in with a fabric marker and added the person the quote was from, tinier, free-form. Then, being in a playful mood from staring at the word “playful”, I added in a few flourishes here and there. Tickled that I was back on track, I tossed a few magnets on to check out how sticky they were. Sticky enough!

Office Cork Board

Next comes the fun of hanging this thing. It was yet another piece of the puzzle I had dreaded for months, and hadn’t truly figured out yet. I tried sawtooth hangers (which, by the way, when asking the Home Depot employee where the sawtooth hangers are, they don’t quite comprehend what you are asking, unless you make a little zigzag gesture with your hand while saying sawtooth, and indicate a hanging motion – hanging a picture, while saying hanger), which pulled out of the back when I tried to hang the monster.

Then I attempted a screw eye/picture frame wire setup, with anchored screws in the bottom to ensure the board held up. The only problem was the anchored bottom screws held the board up just a fraction of an inch too high, thus the wire wouldn’t catch. So at this point, I went to bed, determined to figure it out in the morning.

Office Cork Board

In the morning, a bit put off by the whole thing, I decided what the hell. I pulled the bottom screws out and let this sucker hang. And it worked! I was so excited, this was the picture I sent a friend, saying, “It’s hanging!!”. The only problem was I hadn’t slid in both pieces of glass that would be my “whiteboard”, and of course, the one I hadn’t slid in was the one at the top, close to the cabinet bottoms. So after getting this hanging, I did have to pull it back down to slide in the glass, and re-hang.

"White" board for the office

But finally, I could check off on my to do list Hang and Admire!. I nailed my pen jar back into the wall where it had been and began to clean up my insane mess.

Mementos on magnetic office board

As I was cleaning up, I found this picture from a previous client of a scenic Hawaiian coast, so up it went, along with a memento from a more recent Myrtle Beach trip – a round of golf with my family at The Witch where I didn’t do half bad (I didn’t quite do half good either, but fun times!). I knew my magnetic area would come in handy! I don’t know how many old photos I have with tack holes from previous boards.

Finally, I cleaned up my desk, getting my phone back in place and my WRONG eraser that always cracks me up. The bulletin board was complete. Did I overdo it? Most certainly. Would I have it any other way? Of course not!

Office Cork Board

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