28 March 2011

Nature's Jewelry

Last week I found a link to a tutorial by Lindsay over at Shrimp Salad Circus, for wooden branch buttons.  I love the idea of using branches for things other than decoration. Yes, the vases in my house are filled with all kinds of branches. So trying out a form of this tutorial was as simple as pulling a branch from a vase and sawing away at it.  Yea, right!

The supplies I used:
1. a small hacksaw
2. a broken cutting board to protect my work surface
3. a rubbery spongy anti-slip pad for under the cutting board
4. Orange-Glo to polish up the wood
5. 200 grit sandpaper
6. safety glasses
7. branches!

I wanted to just jump right in, and knowing I wasn't trying to match up sizes to start with I didn't measure thickness.  I eyeballed my starting point and started sawing like mad. 

Old branch with lots of character!


 Above you can see my first branch.  I love the look of the old bark, though the old bark didn't so much like staying on the branch.  I sawed about a dozen or so and I was able to get  two slices with bark intact.  The one shown above is about the size of a dime. 


epoxy + brass tag = possibilities!


I originally wanted to drill a hole for a jump ring but the drill was kaput.  Nevertheless, I persevered. The above shown slices have had their edges sanded, been polished up with the Orange-Glo and have been glued to the brass tags with epoxy. 


While the above bits dried, I tried my hand with a much fresher branch.  The husband went searching, despite the rainy weather, and found me some crab apple branches that had been pruned off the trees. (Thanks to my neighbor Ryan!)


crab apple branch = whoamg my hand is falling off

This fresh branch posed one major stumbling block; fresh = way harder to saw.  As you can see by the uneven saw marks in the slice, I had to stop and start a lot.  In fact, after just two of these I had to stop entirely.  Using the hacksaw for this turned out to be impractical.   The bark, however, stayed on quite nicely!


My observations:

1. I loved working with wood.
2. Older wood has way more character but is quite brittle.
3. A circular saw would save a lot of time and prevent sore hands!
4. The Orange-Glo  stains the wood a darker color that does not fade (though the scent of orange does)


What I'll do next time:

1. Line up a guy with a saw.
2. Line up a guy with a working drill.
3. Investigate different sizes and thicknesses for focals and/or charms.
4. Investigate sealers to keep older bark on the slice without losing the natural quality.
5. Try out paint, decoupage, etc for bare wood surface.
6. Try Pledge polishing.

So many possibilities presented themselves during the short time I worked with these branches yesterday.  I'm looking forward to working with them again.

If you've made anything with branch wood I'd love to see it! Leave a link so I can visit! :)

3 comments:

  1. Looks great neighbor!!!! I know that with your creativity you will come up with some beautiful pieces!!!!

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  2. Thanks Ryan! And double thanks for the branches :D

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  3. Great idea and nice upcycle! ;)

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