Lady Gaga among artist’s champagne cork models

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A selection of eye-catching miniatures, made from little more than champagne corks and wood glue, have been hand crafted into caricatures by budding artist Kenny Welsh.

His hobby started more than 20 years ago when he began collecting the used champagne corks while cleaning hotel rooms.

Kenny Welsh with his champagne cork creations. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Kenny Welsh with his champagne cork creations. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Now he has hundreds of characters ranging from the Fab Four to Lady Gaga on display at his “cork-a-ture” exhibition at Portobello library.

The first thing I made was a jug with a wee handle and it progressed from there,” he said.

“I went on to make chess sets with Muppets characters, but there was quite a few characters so I started to make salt and pepper pots.

“I’ve got hundreds of them now – it’s just a hobby really though I get a few requests from people.

“I mainly just keep them packed away in shoe boxes as there’s so many. It’s nice to see them all on display and see people enjoy them.

“There’s certainly been a lot of people who have shown an interest. I think it’s because they’re quite unusual and there’s a real variety of 
characters.”

Kenny, 53, said it only takes him a day to make one of the carved creations which he starts by hollowing the cork with a scalpel.

He then moulds the features with the putty-like wood glue before leaving it to harden and paints the details the next day.

If the cork is on the small side, he boils it in a saucepan first so the wood expands, before getting to work.

The Star Wars fan said his greatest creations had to be some of its classic characters such as Jabba the Hutt. “I’m a Star Wars collector so they’ve got to be my favourite but I’ve also done other film characters like Batman and stars from Pirates of the Caribbean,” he said.

“There’s a few different ones of Lady Gaga and different ones of The Beatles.

“I mainly just make them by basing it on a picture of them.

“The most difficult ones are characters with armour and some of the sci-fi ones like robots. They take the longest time to do and are the most tricky.

“I enjoy making them and it’s a great feeling when you see the one you’re working on finished.

“It’s just a matter of finding the time to make them.”

It would be an expensive hobby if Kenny had to drink the champagne first, but he has a supply on tap from a local wine bar.

A few of his models can be bought at Martha’s Attic in Portobello, where a selection are on show.

Edinburgh’s most famous couple, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, have proved to be among the most popular 
purchases for visitors.

And Kenny has pledged to make a new one to add to the brood if there is the pitter patter of panda paws next year.

“If it happens I’ll happily carve a new one,” he said.

“The animals have always been popular and I get a lot of requests from people wanting their pets done.”