I'm kind of proud of this project. I mean, I'm not saying it's the awesomest thing ever made, but for my very first wood carving project, it turned out pretty well. Plus I've been stewing over making this for about a year now - no kidding - so it's great to actually see it realized.
Remember how I told you: 1) mini broke my camera and I was using my phone and B) my phone died and I was using my hubby's crappier phone and C) I lost a bunch of pictures that were irretrievable and C1) I don't like pumpkin pie?? Three of those things are relevant to this "tutorial". I'll let you decide.
This isn't really a tutorial. I'm only kind of showing you what I did.
Here are the items I used (just so you can double check that I only used things from a Hardware Store): 4 ft wide 6 ft tall fence panel Circular saw Palm sander Coarse grit sand paper paint pencil (you can get those at a hardware store, right??) Electric wood carving tool Wood dowel pins Wood shims Drill Spray adhesive
The only thing I didn't get at the hardware store, but I'm fairly positive all of you have if you are here reading this was my computer/printer/paper. So I still think it counts.
Now, because I don't have a decent amount of tutorial pics of all of these items in action, below I have provided some photos of items that may deserve more explanation.
Electric reciprocating hand carving tool above.
The one I used looked a lot like this one. Minus about 600 attachments. And mine was black.
wood dowel pins above.
Perhaps this wasn't the most explanatory photo to use since it makes them look about ten feet tall. No size reference at all... basically they're the little pins that come with prefab furniture to hold things in place in addition to screws. The ones I used were about 2 ish inches long.
wood shims above.
Ok, this one's good because those are the EXACT shims I got. You need one shim for each couple and one shim for each of the couple's kids.
Begin by measuring the wall/space you want this bad boy to rest on, so you can cut it to size. Then cut it to size. Fancy that. Mine is about 3.5 ft by 3 ft. Ish. I am currently afraid of our circular saw (what?? You saw what a craft knife can do to me!) so I actually had my hubby cut this - so sue me if that's cheating. I made sure to measure and mark it so that the crosswise supports on the back of the fence panel were near the top and bottom of the cut piece, that way I wouldn't need to do any screwing/nailing to construct the actual wooden part since it would have all the stability it needed already. The first picture shows what my hubby cut off. The second shows the piece of fence I used for the project. Notice he cut off the "dog teeth" for me.
Next, and very late at night I might add, I sanded that bad boy down. I didn't bother sanding it perfectly smooth, since in my mind one of the charms of pallet art is that it looks kind of rough and rustic. I did want to take care of the slivery parts though because I didn't want anyone getting hurt on my cool art. You can see the type of small sander I used along with the coarse sandpaper. In the closer photos you can make out the imperfections I left behind - on purpose. Even though I sanded over the whole front side, I left some cracks, knots and bumps. I sanded the edges really well, though, since they were roughest. I didn't sand the back at all. More work than I needed.
Next came paint. Again, I wanted it to be a little rustic. I wanted the grain to kind of come through but not totally. I happened to have the perfect turquoise shade on hand (yippee!). I just painted it on there with a normal brush, without priming. It took three coats to get the right coverage - not too much, just enough.
Once that was dry, I used a pencil to free hand a tree shape over the entire front. In the photos below you can just barely detect the limbs and branches, if you squint. (And turn your head to the left, cover your right eye and stick out your tongue.) I made sure to draw roots too.
Since I had never used a wood carving tool before, I tested out all the different attachments - all 5 of them. And that is when I learned that I have no idea how to carve. I mean, I had an inkling that would be the case, but here's when I KNEW. I decided on the deep V-shaped one for the outline and the U-shaped one for most of the inside. In the end, I also used the V to scratch in some tiny little branches, too. Those were the only two I used. The bottom two pictures show the bottom of the tree - the outline of the roots and bottom of the trunk.
When I was done with most of the outline, I started carving out the inside of the tree. It was an odd experience because it was both easy and hard. I was surprised at how easy and natural it was to create a tree shape. I was also surprised at how hard it was to carve HORIZONTALLY across the boards. Vertical was no problem. Obviously, this had to do with the grain and perhaps the problem would have been prevented had I not been using cheap scraps for a wood base.
Finally, after literally four hours of carving (no, really, this time I'm NOT exaggerating. I did the math. I was out there for FOUR HOURS.) I had the tree basically done. The next morning I went through and smoothed out some of the curves and added the tiny branches on top.
I have to take a break in the "tutorial" to tell you how much I love the texture of the tree. The carvings really look like bark to me. I was please with how much visual interest I was able to achieve with just carving - no paints to add shadows and highlights, but you can still tell which branches are on the front of the tree and which are coming from the back. I kind of really dig that.
SO. This next part is the section of lost photos, so I'll do my best to explain.
The shims are basically right triangles - a super skinny end and a thicker end. I wanted them to be more rectangular, and had I had the option I would have gone to the craft store for little pieces of rectangular wood or wood plaques which I KNOW they have. BUT I was playing by the rules, and this was the cheapest AND EASIEST option I could find for little rectangles. SO. I cut the skinny end off of each shim, making them more uniform. Next, I laid them out on the tree where I thought they'd look good. Each shim will represent a hubby and wife OR one child, so you'll want to keep families together. I grouped my mom and dad at the top on one side and mr's mom and dad on the top on the other side. Then I grouped mr and I in the middle with our kids, and my siblings on one side with their kids and mr's siblings on the other side with their kids. Fortunately, it all balanced out really well that way. (Don't go having 50 kids now, anyone. You'll mess up the aesthetic.) On the tree, I marked the center of each shim with a pencil mark. I used my drill to drill holes in the shims. The holes were in the center of the shim and only went about halfway through from the back - NOT all the way to the front. Then I drilled holes in all of the pencil marks on the tree. On my computer, I typed our names. I used a different font for each "sub"family and added a few dark teal leaves for decoration. I printed them out on regular computer paper. I cut them to little rectangles. Then I sprayed the back of the paper with spray adhesive and secured each name to the front of a shim. The final step was pushing those little dowel pins into the holes in the tree. You want them to stick out at least an inch. Then you just push the shims down onto the dowel pins where they go.
Here you can see a truer depiction of the paint color. Also, you can see the tiny leaves by the names. Husband and wife are together on one shim. If you look down a little from the shim on the tree, you can see the hole drilled for their little boy (well, for his shim, not him.) The bottom photo shows the dowel pin sticking out the back of the shim.
Don't you just love the rough texture you can see in the photo there? I don't know why I think it's so cool... In the middle you can see Justin and I with our two cuties under. mr's parents are on the top right and my parents are on the top left. I tried to make the fonts match the families - in personality or character or whatever. It was kind of fun.
Know what else I like about it? The tools I had on hand. (My dad lent me the carving tool.) I also had the fence panel and the paint. And the computer/printer/paper, obviously. So all I bought for this project? Shims and wooden dowel pins - for a grand total of about $5. Cannot complain about that, my friends!
And that is what you can do if you have an old fence panel laying around. But guess what? You could use a pallet too. Amazing, I know.