Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DIY Wooden Wall Art

I am very excited to share this project with you guys! I am rarely ever crafty or super artsy when it comes to painting and making things. Nothing ever comes out how I planned, but this is the first time I am really proud of something I made. This is the first time something came out pretty much how I had imagined it! This was Chris's secret Valentine's Day present, and he loved it!



Here's the story: I did a lot of research on making your own wall art. I wanted to use lyrics from mine and Chris's song and create some art using it. I was thinking about canvas at first, but Chris is the kind of guy who likes wooden and natural looking things so I thought...well, maybe I will just paint on wood! After I decided my surface, I went to Michael's and picked out a piece of craft wood that was all ready to use so that I didn't have to do any cutting, sanding, etc. Once that was picked out, I had to figure out how to go about painting on it.


Originally, I wanted to try a technique where you get vinyl letter stickers and stick them to the wood, then stain right over them so that when you remove the stickers, the letters would remain untouched and stand out against the stain. The problems were that a. I wanted a specific font and b. custom decals can get pricey and I wasn't sure if this was actually going to work. I asked a few other bloggers who did similar projects, and they all seemed to feel that the stain would bleed right under the decals. Since this plan wasn't going to work out, I decided that I would just stain the wood and then paint on it freehand. This made me incredibly nervous, as I don't ever paint. Ever.


I spent a good long while in the craft store deciding what I needed, what colors to use, and what kinds of paints to get. There were so many decisions that I didn't know what to do. I knew I needed acrylic paints, but there were just so many brand and color options. It was so overwhelming! Plus, there was also the option of paint pens, which I thought might be easier for lettering. I was also overwhelmed by all the different paintbrush options. What I ended up doing was getting a really cheap square of similar craft wood and testing things out on that. I bought one paint pen, one color of acrylic paint, and one paintbrush to start off with. I had already bought the stain previous to this since I knew that staining was a definite. I stained a little of the tester wood and then painted on that. The paint pen was nice, but it wasn't the look I wanted for the letters, so I decided to stick with regular acrylic paint and use the pen for accenting. After I finally bought all the supplies I needed, it was time to get started!

How To Make Wooden Wall Art:

Estimated time needed to complete: 2-3 days

Piece of craft wood (I used a 12x16 in. size, but you can use any size you like!)
Wood stain (I used Minwax's Honey shade)
Paintbrush for stain
Scrap piece of cloth
Acrylic paints
Sketching pencil (B)
Measuring tape/ruler
Paint pens (optional)
Can of gloss finish

Step One: Staining the Wood
Staining wood is pretty simple and easy. The directions are right on the can! Basically, you just paint the stain onto the wood, following the direction of the grain. Don't move your brush back and forth, only stroke the brush one way. Let the stain sit for about 5-15 minutes and then wipe off access stain with the scrap piece of cloth. Let it sit again and dry for 24 hours.



Step Two: Drawing Your Design on the Wood
I had actually drawn my design on the wood in regular pencil before staining the wood as I thought it would show through the stain, but it ended up not showing up at all! After the stain was dry, I had to redraw my design onto the stained wood. I used a sketching pencil labeled B as this is a more softer, yet darker type of pencil so that it would be less likely to indent the wood.

The trickiest part of this whole project is centering and evenly spacing your design. It requires a little bit of math (groan). Measure your wood and determine how many lines of text you will need, then divide the length of the wood by how many lines you will need. This will give you an estimation of how tall your letters should be. I used a measuring tape to measure the amount of space I wanted from the edges before the design started. I also used it to measure the height of the letters. Since I had the apple and I knew I wanted it to be bigger, I adjusted for this determining that the apple was approximately equivalent to two lines of text. You'll get the hang of it once you know the design you want. I started from each edge and worked my way in to make sure I was keeping in line with my measurements. This meant working backwards from the right edge.

[My design drawn before I stained. You'll have to draw it after it's stained!]
Draw your design with the sketching pencil (this will take some time and a bit of trial and error). Try to draw lightly in case you have to erase, but it'll depend on how dark your stain is.

Step Three: Painting Your Design
Here is the fun and rewarding part...painting! Carefully trace over your pencil-drawn design with the acrylic paint in the colors of your choice. If you are painting letters, use a thin and pointed paintbrush. For the apple, I used a wider brush since it's wider. You may have to go over the paint a few times, but the acrylic paint dries quickly, so you don't have to wait forever for it to dry to go over it. Once I was done with the acrylic paint, I used the gold paint pen I got for the leaf accents at the top and bottom of my design. This doesn't take long to dry either.




[Paint pen accent]
Step Four: Apply The Gloss Finish
The gloss finish is to protect your painting and to ensure that it will last forever! The directions for this should also be right on the can, just like with the wood stain. Stand your wood upright and lean it against something that you don't care gets wet with the gloss. Hold the can of gloss about 10-12 inches away from the wood. Shake it good and spray in a sweeping motion back and forth across the wood, being sure to overlap your strokes as you move your way down so that every part is covered. Allow to dry for 24 hours and do not touch it!

Step Five: Enjoy Your New Painting!
Once the gloss coat is completely dry, you will be able to use it for decoration. If you want to hang it, you will need to attach a fixture to the back that will hold the weight of the wood. If you would rather skip this step, you can just prop up the wood on a shelf, mantle, doorframe, or anywhere you see fit! Enjoy your piece of work, and be proud! :D




  1. this turned out wonderfully! There is always something so much more special about giving a handmade gift!


  2. That turned out really cute!! And I also imagine that stain would probably have soaked right under the decals, so I think it's good you ended up choosing this strategy!

  3. This is beautiful!! Giving handmade gifts always feels great, I love making things.

  4. This is great! You did a wonderful job with this DIY!

  5. Wow, that's really great. For a first time, this is a fab job! It would have looked so much worse if it was me making it.

    ~ K

  6. This is so adorable!


  7. After moving into our dream home, my husband finally got his man cave. He decided to go with a rustic theme design to go with our craftsman style home. We were searching the web for a company that did custom wood signs to put up the room and finally we came across Unique Custom Products. They had great pictures of other designs they had done and we decided to order. The sign that arrived was absolutely beautiful! The wood was really good quality and the engraving was flawless - it fit in well with his theme. Check them out at www.custom-woodsigns.com