By Christian Zerbel Herald Writer
EDMONDS — People drank a lot of wine to support this piece of art.
It’s a nearly 7-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower made with hundreds of wine corks. And it’s sitting in the window of an Edmonds wine shop.
Husband and wife Kris and Alex Muhlestein spent 101 hours putting together the tower for the “Paris and Wine”-themed auction at the Edmonds Community College on Saturday.
Ruth Arista, owner of Arista Wine Cellars, came up with the idea to build the replica Eiffel Tower at a gala board meeting. Alex Muhlestein is on the board for the auction, which raises money for scholarships for the community college. She and her husband agreed to undertake the project.
So the board spread the word that it needed wine corks — and lots of them. The community answered with thousands of corks. The board donated some, too.
They plan to auction the creation Saturday. And they’re raising money by having people pay to guess how many corks were used — with half of the money benefiting the scholarship fund and the other half going to the winner.
Until the gala, the creation sits in Arista’s shop.
The Muhlesteins made the replica Eiffel Tower by drilling holes through the corks and slipping them one at a time onto a welded metal frame.
“I had a friend of mine who’s an engineer do a scaled version of the Eiffel Tower to one-to-200 scale. I printed that out to size, so I actually have a piece of paper that is seven feet tall,” Kris Muhlestein said.
Though, Alex Muhlestein said that the tower didn’t come out perfect the first time. Once, they had to backtrack when the tower began to slouch.
“It was really lopsided,” she said.
Kris Muhlestein joked that there wasn’t an instructional video on YouTube to guide the project so mistakes were bound to happen.
The tower has a slight twist to it. But after many long hours using hot glue, the Muhlesteins were finished and came to grips with the fact that the tower couldn’t be a perfect replica, “At one point we’re, like, it’s OK — it’s a cork tower,” Kris Muhlestein said.
As for how many corks were used for the replica, no one’s giving any hints.
People also can bid on gourmet dinners, fine wines and a grand prize of a two-week stay at the town of Cuxac-Cabardes in southern France.
Last year, the auction took in $195,000 to benefit the Edmonds Community College Foundation.
Kris Muhlestein doesn’t know how much the tower will reap in for the foundation, but he’ll be happy with just about any amount, saying that he and his wife donated their time and the corks were free.
“If it goes for a hundred then that’s gravy, that’s the frosting on the cake,” Arista said. “If it goes for a thousand that’s even more frosting on the cake. It’s all good because it all benefits the students.”
Kris Muhlestein said that the more money the tower raises, the more likely he will be to construct another replica.
One possibility is making a Space Needle cork tower.
And Arista is hoping she can get the couple to make a wine cork skeleton for her shop for Halloween.
Christian Zerbel 425-33-3452