Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Process: Wooden Canvases, Coasters, and Platters

Hello! It's Kate again. I hope you've enjoyed the story of the Shakespeare scroll, because there's more where that came from! Today's topic is woodwork.

Jen and I decided on three wooden items for Kickstarter: canvases, coasters, and platters. Wood is a deeply traditional material for certain art styles, and since we're all about making old things new, there was no escaping it!

How did we choose our wood? Well, Jen and I both have a soft spot for pyrography--bet you hadn't noticed!--and so we needed wood that was low grain and soft, yet not too soft (we really didn't fancy selling stuff that lasts maybe six months before looking like it's aged six years). So! We settled on using pine, linden, and maple.

Coasters: These little guys are made of pine wood. We started by sketching a design on each coaster.(I'll let Jen tell you about these designs--they're all hers!).

Step two was probably our favorite: plugging in the wood-burner and then turning our sketches into permanent designs--burned (literally) into the wood. It took about 45 minutes to burn each coaster.

After pyrography came staining. We used a great water-based stain and applied even coats to each coaster. This kind of staining is an awesome process. For one, it's fun. But it's also low-maintenance: once you apply a coat, you can run off and tend to some other project while it dries.

Steps four and five involved leafing and finishing. There's a special adhesive for gold and silver leaf--incredibly sticky and remains incredibly sticky for hours--and it's the first step in the leafing process. For larger areas, like on these coasters, we used a small paint brush to apply the adhesive. Once it turns from white to clear, you can apply the leaf (seriously fun!).

Finishing these coasters was a very important step: the leafing needed to be protected, and the whole coaster needed to be, well... usable. That's why we first applied a specially designed leafing sealer, followed by several coats of wood finish.

Canvas and Platters: These items have a nearly identical process to the coasters: sketching, burning, staining, leafing, and finishing.

The wood canvas is textbook pyrography material. Like I mentioned, quite a few wood types become nightmares when you've got a wood-burner in your hand. Pine works great, and linden wood is fantastic. But, here's the catch: linden is so soft that it doesn't always hold up well on its own. Thankfully, some incredible genius out there came up with the idea of combining wood types...and that's exactly what this item is: a wooden canvas with pine supports and a linden surface.

And, finally, we have the wooden platters which are made of maple. As it turns out, maple likes to present little surprises once you start working with it (particularly when it comes to staining). That's right: maple blotches!!! But it's such a lovely wood that doing a little extra research was worth it. Baby it a tad (i.e., sand and wipe it extra good and keep Shalack handy), and then staining maple is totally doable.

Tada! There you have it. The end.

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