It's not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of a life you have lived.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas 2016 - Day Three

Welcome to day 3 of this year's 12 Days of Christmas. Did you ever do any wood burning as a kid? Or see some that someone else did? Those raggedy, jaggedy, uneven lines and shading that was so bad it was hard to tell what the picture was actually supposed to be?  Well, today's project is wood burned, but these designs are so easy that anyone can do them and have them turn out great!  These designs are from Better Homes and Gardens back in the 70's, and they are still as nice today as they were back then. I wood burned some utensils for Christmas presents when I was first married 43 years ago, and when I was at my sister-in-law's home in October, I noticed she still has hers! That was nice to see.

If you Google "wood burned wood utensils", you will get literally hundreds of designs, ranging from beginner to very advanced. I even saw a set of 4 spoons that were burned with kind of abstract images of the Beatles! I think I'll have to make those for my youngest daughter, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Beatles fan, even though she's only 37. With all those options, I'm sure you'll find something you like. As for me, these are still my favorites. They are easy to do and relatively quick to finish. And all you need is your wooden utensils, your pattern, unless you free-hand them like I do, and a wood burning tool, which I got at Wal*Mart in the craft department.. The spoons I use I also get at Wal*Mart for either 97 cents or $1.97 for the set shown above, I can't remember which, but either way it's a good deal! These are soft wood, which is really easy to burn, but they do carry other spoons that are hardwood or bamboo, they just cost more. The bamboo set pictured lower down is 4 or 5 dollars for 5 utensils, and they burn nicely, too.

So, let's get started. First decided what design you are going to burn. Like I said, there are LOTS of patterns and designs out there to choose from, but these BH&G designs are some of the easiest for beginners. Use a pencil and lightly draw your pattern on your spoon, or trace a design on paper and transfer it to the spoon with graphite paper. You can also rub your pencil over the back of the paper and then trace it, making your own graphite paper! I think this is something that every kid learns to do in elementary school. 

Now it's time to heat up the burner. It doesn't take long, so be careful! It burns wood easily, so what do you think it will do to you? The burner comes with a little stand to keep it up off of any surfaces you set it on, but I have a metal bowl that I sit mine in. I'm kin of clumsy and don't want to take any chances. Plus, I can sit on the couch and wood burn without starting any fires.

The wood burner also comes with a set of different tips for making thick or thin lines, shading, etc., and the new one I just bought has two tips for burning your own stencils, too. I hardly ever use any tip but the basic one, which looks like this.......

And the round one that makes perfect dots and looks like this. (Sorry they're a little blurry,)

I recommend you buy an extra set of utensils so you can practice. You can always practice on a scrap of wood, but since the softness or hardness won't be the same, it really is better to practice on the same thing you plan to wood burn. Draw a pattern on your practice piece and start burning. Hold the burner only by the plastic handle. This will still get warm up at the top but not nearly as hot as that metal piece above it! You can really burn yourself if you aren't careful. It's going to be weird at first, because you're used to holding a pencil or pen down closer to the end, but a little practice makes it easy to remember.

So, holding your burner like you would a pencil or pen except up higher, start burning your design. You can make thin lines by not pushing as hard or going as slow, and you can make thicker lines by doing just the opposite.....push a little harder or go a little slower. Lines are made by burning with the thin edge, and shading can be done by turning it on one of it's flat sides. You can also use the shading tip, which looks kind of like a paddle or spatula, but I don't like having to wait for the tip to cool so I can change to a different one, so I have learned to do everything I need with that one tip. I even make dots with it if I don't mind them being little triangles. But I do change the tip for nice, round dots. I burn everything but the dots on everything I'm burning and then change to the other tip. That way I don't have to keep changing tips!

Remember, practice makes perfect. Experiment with different ways to hold the tip to get different types of lines or shading. Use the whole set of spoons for practice, if that's what it takes. After all, it's only a couple of dollars you're spending, and it's better to practice and have a nice finished product that it is to just barge ahead and have a product that doesn't look as nice. Think about it this way......if you would give it to your mama, then it's good enough to give to someone else! I always ask myself that question, and the answer tells me if I have done a nice job or not. I'm just sayin".......

One other thing you will need that I forgot to list above, and that's some fine-grit sandpaper. after you have finished burning your utensils, rub the design with some really fine sandpaper to smooth out any "hairs" or rough edges on the burning. Blow the dust out of the lines and you're done! Put them in a pretty jar or tie them with ribbon with a cute little tag to give as a gift. They also make good stocking stuffers or oven mitt stuffers along with a package of brownie mix or your favorite recipe.

Here is the set of bamboo utensils. These are for my daughter-in-law because she can't stand the feel of raw wood. I just kind of made up the patterns as I went along. I hope she'll like them.

And that's it for today. I hope you enjoy making these cute, inexpensive gifts for all your family and friends. And here's a little bit of wisdom for you...."It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." W.T. Ellis.  Love to all,

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