A Corky Surprise

Johannisburg Castle in Aschaffenburg holds a truly unusual treasure – an art form I had absolutely no idea even existed.

When I visited the Renaissance castle with my parents, I expexted the usual history and architecture exhibition. They have that and then some.

Enter the world’s largest collection of architectural models made from cork, built by court confectioner Carl May in the 18th century.

He was a big fan of Italian architecture, it seems (well, who isn’t?). And cork lends itself wonderfully as a raw material to portray withered stone surfaces, some of them with intense detail.

So, how are these models constructed?

A thin layer of cork is applied to a wooden board construction.

Columns have a square wooden bar on the inside and are then covered with rounded cork pieces to give them a cylindrical shape.

Imprint molds, sharp knives and thin saws are the most important tools used in the process. Gaps are filled with cork dust mixed with various liquid bases such as brandy.

Here are some highlights of the collection:

The Pantheon is about a meter high.

The Colosseo is 3,12 meters in diameter.

Apparently, the guy was a marketing genious, too: There’s a size for every budget, small, medium, and large (no kidding, it does say so in the description).

What can I say? Mind = blown, Aschaffenburg.

I did not see this coming.

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