How to Make a Driftwood Sculpture
Driftwood Turned Sculpture: An Advanced Driftwood Art Project
This is a fun lesson in creating artwork from driftwood. This project is not recommended for a beginner. It is suggested for someone who knows how to use basic power tools. One might attempt this if they have guidance or supervision from a knowledgeable source. Make sure to follow safety precautions when working with power tools. Always wear safety glasses. Work in a well-ventilated area. Wear a mask when sanding.
It must be determined exactly what you want to accomplish before you begin. The decisions you come to should be jotted down on a piece of paper along with a list of necessary tools needed. The example in this article can not be exactly duplicated because each piece of driftwood is unique. Keeping that in mind it is possible to closely simulate the sculpture portrayed here. Your project will be one of a kind.
Adapt the information given here to the work in front of you. You might have to do more or less cutting and sanding, Toward the end you may decide not to paint your work at all. With that said, be open to explore and invent and have fun with the creative process.
Driftwood is the basic ingredient. Selection might be based on the natural shape of an existing piece or it may be you will just use what is on hand. Find a few pieces to work with and give them some creative thought. You will want to have one piece that is going to be used as a base.
Envision the Finished Sculpture
This is where your creative forces come to play. Play is a key word. Do a little mental visualization. Imagine what you want to achieve. Think about the finished product before you make a single cut.
Consider the final steps you must implement to make your idea work. You will have to plan where to drill and glue the pieces of driftwood together. Make sure that it is feasible to do what you Have envisioned.
Make a sketch. Write down any ideas or tools you will need to reach your goal. Measure in your minds eye or use a ruler to make exact decisions before you do anything.
- small drill bit
- scroll saw
- acrylic paint
- paint brush
- 1/4" wooden dowel rod
- paper for a pattern
Draw the Pattern
Use the paper to draw your design pattern. Use scissors to cut the paper pattern out. Trace around the pattern onto the driftwood. Now you are ready to start cutting.
Cut the Sculpture Elements
Using a fish shaped pattern, all three fish were designed about the same. This was done to create harmony within the composition of the sculpture. Think ahead here. Make sure the pattern is the right size for your wood. Check the wood to make sure it is solid enough to cut. Some driftwood is very soft and will crumble. Soft driftwood will not hold a glued dowel. The wood you use needs to be sturdy enough to work.
Some driftwood is very hard. Aged wood might not be easily cut. Knots and dense grains can be difficult. Keep an open mind to these considerations before you get too far in to this project. You do not want to get almost finished only to discover the wood is crumbling or a knot is in the way of your mark.
Drilling Dowel Holes
The fish were finished with a sander to smooth edges and create a rustic appearance. This step will depend on where you want to go with your design. The object is to give a finished look to your work. It is not necessary to sand any more than you desire.
Prepare Work For Mount
This is the trickiest part of the project. Drill holes in the base and in the pieces to be mounted. The holes have to line up so measure and mark each hole with accuracy. For strong support make two holes for each piece to be mounted.
Use a wood dowel to attach the pieces to the base. The dowel can be carefully sanded to a smaller size if necessary. The fish were too thin to use a 1/4" dowel so the dowel was made to fit the holes. It took 6 holes in the base and two holes in each fish to mount the pieces.
Paint or Not
Before the piece is glued together it should be painted. Do this after you check to make sure it will all fit. Make sure the pegs fit the holes but not too tight. Do not force the pieces, just fit them together good enough to find out if it all lines up.
Take everything apart. Paint the pieces before gluing. This will allow for reaching all sides of the pieces. The pieces can be painted however you desire. You can leave them natural if you prefer that look. It is your call at this point.
Resources That Will Help
- How To Color Stain Wood For Crafts
The grain of wood is often what makes it so attractive to the human eye. We enjoy the natural color and flow. Here I am going to show how to push the grain of wood just a little further than raw and natural.
Mounting Fish To Base
Finish With Glue
When all of the pieces of the sculpture are ready to assemble you can start gluing it all together. The fish were each painted a different shade of green for this driftwood sculpture. A color stain wash was used to do the job.
It was all sanded down to give a rustic appearance when the color wash was dry. This is a matter of choice and does not have to be part of your project.
Glue Each Hole
Glue was applied to each hole working with one fish at a time. I put the dowels into the fish first and lightly tapped them with a hammer. Take caution here. Tap very lightly so you do not break anything.
Next line the dowels up with the holes on the base and repeat tapping until the piece is resting where you want it. You can use the dowels as a part of the overall design or they can be cut to short lengths and driven deep enough to be used only as an anchor.
Outdoor Garden Sculpture
A piece like this would make a nice garden artwork. Use a glue that is waterproof if you intend for it to go outside. This will hold in damp weather and insure the enjoyment of the sculpture for years to come. You might want to add an additional coating of clear sealer to all of the pieces too. It depends on your personal taste and where you plan to display your Driftwood Sculpture.