Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woodland Sprites • DIY Tutorial

Yesterday, I shared with you my recently completed Woodland Sprites crafted from tree branches. You can see a series of photographs of them here. Today, I share with you hints on how to find them and a step-by-step tutorial on making your own.

Supplies needed:
  • Branches
  • Clippers
  • Black spray paint (matte)
  • Round log ( about 3-4" diameter)
• Find your sprites. This is the most difficult step. Trees that have people forms in them need to have branches that grow out opposite each other for arms. Most trees around here have an alternating pattern. Also little people will be found at tree tops. I went looking for trees with recently bent branches so I could reach what had previously been the tree top. Here is a likely candidate....

• But on closer inspection I see that the branches grow in an alternating pattern. Finding people forms here will be unlikely.

• Moving on to another bent top, I see exactly what I am looking for - arms! Here is a tree with branches growing opposite each other.

• I start looking at the branches and sure enough! I find people forms for sprites. Two arms and two legs are required. 

• I clipped the sprite form well above the "shoulders". 

• I collected many of these. Each has its own personality and I want a selection when arranging them.

• I clipped them to what I considered to be the ideal proportions for a woodland sprite but left 1 leg about 1/2" too long. This was to leave a point to insert into the base.  

• I found a scrap of wood and drilled it full of holes a little bigger than the branches. I used a split log from the firewood pile. I inserted a whole gaggle of branches into the log. This was to hold them in place as I spray-painted them.

• Working in a well ventilate space, I sprayed the branches. First I tried a gloss black but, after the first coat, switched to a matte black. I choose black to emphasize the silhouette but could have chosen any color - or a rainbow for that matter!

• As always with spray paint, I did many light coats letting it dry in between each. I sprayed from all angles hoping to get complete coverage.

• While the branches dried I worked on the bases. My original plan was to have a long log with the sprites dancing along it but I quickly modified to disks cut from firewood. It was here that I discovered a surprise. I randomly selected a piece of dried firewood that was about 3" in diameter and cut it into disks ranges from 1 to 4 inches high. 

• When I cut into it I discovered it was spalted maple. Maple becomes spalted just as it starts to rot and black veins snake through the wood. These lines create intricate, beautiful patterns in an otherwise very plan wood. It was after this discovery that I switched to black matte paint. It compliments the spalted effect.

• Most of the bark fell away by my chipping at it. I then sanded off the outer layer of weathered wood working first on a disk sander with 36 grit paper.

• I moved to a belt sander and used two different grits of sandpaper to smooth the initial rough sanding. 

• My original plan had been to give the bases a light coat of satin polyurethane and I experimented on one thinking it would emphasize the lines. It didn't. In fact it really didn't improve the appearance at all so I opted to leaving the bases natural. They really are beautiful - and inspirational.   Just looking at them gives me new ideas.

• Once the sprites were dry and all the bases were sanded, I studied each sprite and decided at what angle they should stand on the base. Using a hand drill I estimated the angle and drilled a hole into the base. It helped to start the hole with and awl.

• Then insert the branch into the base....

• And there is the first Woodland Sprite......

• Make families, classes, gatherings and extra bases to allow freedom in arranging later.

• Try different arrangements in a variety of locations.

If you haven't visited my Branch Inspiration Series yet, you should. It might inspire you as well!

Previous Posts of Interest
©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

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1 comment:

  1. What great fun! Just looking at your pictures, I thought I would love to get out and look for little tree people! I love that they look like they're dancing or skating! Thanks for sharing at the Rock ‘N Share!