We went camping a couple weeks ago. Moral of the story: camping is a lot of work to just go for a single night. But we still had a lot of fun. Mr. Napping took turns taking the boys up to a nearby crystal mine and I kept the other two brothers with me at the campsite.
Well, what’s a girl to do out in the middle of no where, surrounded by huge pine cones and felled birch trees? Yeah, the campground host gathers up the felled trees, cuts them into chunks and sets them around the camp sites for use as firewood. These big, amazing, gorgeous tree trunk pieces with their beautiful white bark… I may have swooned a little. Mr. Napping was mildly dismayed when he found the food box I’d emptied so I could fill it with pine cones… he was less than thrilled with the half a tree I hauled back to the car. But he loves me, so with a sigh, a slight roll of his eyes and a persuasive kiss, he strapped that sucker to the top of our car and bounced it down the rough dirt road all the way back to our house. He loves me.
It sat on our porch for a couple days, until I had the chance to turn my lovely vision into reality:
– Tree Stump (you might check with local landscapers, nurseries, or go on a nature hunt in your local forest… the stump I took was set aside for fire wood at a campground)
– Wood Burning Tool
– Monogram printed or drawn on paper to use as a stencil
– Draw or print out a monogram you want to use one. If you’re feeling bold and daring, go ahead and free hand your design. I did both on our tree.
– To transfer the design from the paper to the wood, lay it over your wood where you want it positioned and use the hot wood burning tool to poke holes through the paper and into the stump. Watch the paper so it doesn’t smolder and catch fire (I didn’t even come close to having this happen, but better safe than sorry), If the design can be cut out – the circle part of our monogram, for example – you can use a permanent marker to trace the design rather than doing the dot method. It’s a little faster.
– Use slow and even pressure to connect the dots and solidify your design. Be patient. It is not a fast process. The monogram on our tree took me about an hour to an hour and a half.
– I also free-hand burned the year we got married below the monogram and then I did the boys’ initials on the back of the trunk and a little heart carving with Mr Napping and my initials in it. I didn’t really want it front and center for the world to see our initials (better safe than sorry), but I wanted something that represented everyone. It turned out great. I love it and Mr Napping even admitted last night that it looks pretty neat on our porch.
Tips & Tricks:
– I would suggest doing this outside or your house will smell like a forest fire. Ironically, I did this in my kitchen because it was too smoky outside… from a forest fire. The smoke was giving me a headache and I decided that I’d prefer the smell of burning wood from one tree to the terrible air quality from lots of burning trees.
– Use the rounded tip for your wood burning tool. It makes bolder lines and is easier to get a consistent burn depth than the pointed tip, which is what I used and then was too impatient to change it. I didn’t want to have to wait for the wood burning tool to cool down and heat up again.
– Keep a wet sponge nearby to clean the tip of your wood burning tool if it starts to get a build up of charred wood on it. It will burn more quickly if it’s clean.
– DON’T expect perfection. Nature isn’t perfect, it isn’t symmetrical, but it is beautiful. You won’t get perfectly straight lines and your burn depth might vary. It’s okay. I promise it will still look fine. Even if you slip or burn something you didn’t mean to. The bark was incredibly forgiving and you don’t even notice any slips.
– Be very, VERY careful with the wood burning tool. Take your time, pay attention to what you’re doing and always be aware of other body parts (yours and anyone else’s). The tip gets extremely hot and can cause 3rd degree burns. BE CAREFUL.
– Put your wood burning tool inside a glass jar when you’re not using it. It will be more protected and less likely to be bumped onto the counter or something than if you set it in a stand.
– Don’t be afraid to free hand. Go read the 4th suggestion again.
Now I just have to decide what else to put out there with it… I have a wreath for the door (watch for that coming soon) but what else? Pine cones? Flowers? More tree pieces? Rocks? Seasonal decor? What would you do?