I love large black and white frames for a gallery wall, but when I’m creating a smaller, more intimate vignette with family photos, I like to add in details that compliment the rest of my space. This trio of wood burned frames ended up being the perfect way to showcase some family photos we had done before leaving Colorado, and it was fun combining a rustic craft with some more modern designs.
-natural wood frames from local hobby store
–wood burning tool
To create a polka-dot effect, use the standard round attachment that comes with your wood burning kit. You can freehand your design or draw out a pattern with a pencil before going over each pencil mark with the tip of your wood burner. I suggest practicing on a scrap piece of wood or the back of your frame before attempting the front.
To create a starburst effect, use your pliers to switch out your round tip with the pointier tip. When placed flat, it will create a short line that you can use to make a variety of patterns. I practiced on the back side, and then carefully started placing my hot tip on the wood and rotating it as needed in order to get a star pattern. I just freehanded these shapes, but you could also use a pencil if you preferred.
To create a triangular pattern, I traced the right angle made from my metal ruler, and then used the same tip from the starburst frame and carefully traced the edges along the ruler. You could easily just burn straight lines into your wood using a similar ruler. Just be sure whatever you are using is not acrylic or wood as it will likely burn as well.
Consistency is key when working with a pattern, so do your best to keep your strokes about the same size and darkness. The longer you hold your tool to your wood, the thicker and darker your lines will get, so it’s best to practice each new stroke a few times so you can see what effect each amount of pressure will have.
Once I was finished with my wood burning, I used a clear wax finish to seal the wood. I tested a stain as well thinking I might like the color, but it was pretty dark brown and changed the whole feel of the frames.
– Always be aware of how your tool is resting when not in immediate use. There is a metal resting mechanism where you can set it if you need to be hands-free for a hot minute. Don’t just set the tool down on your table top as it will surely leave a mark.
– When changing tips, I suggest unplugging your tool and allowing it to cool down before switching it out. This will keep you from setting a hot tip down on your work surface and either burning your table or your fingers.
– Unplug as soon as you are finished and always be aware of your cord. Wood burning tools are obviously not a toy and caution should be exercised when used. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
If you’ve never used a wood burning tool, they’re kind of fun to experiment with. You can find them at most arts and craft stores or on Amazon. I’ve created an art journal cover using one and have plans to personalize a few more wooden items this year. It brings back some Girl Scout memories, for sure! –Rachel
Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.