If the idea of crafting a painting without a visit to the frame shop hasn't entirely won you over yet, you might consider other options for decorating some timber rounds.
PHOTO: NANCY J. TOZIER
You might save a few slabs of your next felled tree from the hungry maw of the woodstove for this fun painting on wood arts and crafts project.
A while back, my father volunteered to be part of a work crew that was clearing trees to enlarge a church parking lot. As Dad watched the billets roll to the ground during the felling-and-bucking operation, he recalled that he'd recently seen some local artists selling paintings they'd executed on slabs of wood. Knowing of my artistic inclinations, my father carefully crosscut two sturdy rounds from a large pine tree and set them aside for me for this painting on wood arts and crafts project.
Since the slices had been made with a chain saw, a lot of sanding was required to prepare them for painting. Dad smoothed the rough spots off with coarse sandpaper and an electric sander, and I finished polishing the to-be-decorated surfaces with fine sandpaper.
Next, I spread three coats of an acrylic polymer medium across the face of each plank to seal the wood. Once I'd roughed in some designs, I filled in my "masterpieces," using acrylic paints. Then, after the artworks had thoroughly dried, I applied two coats of acrylic matte medium, which provided a non-glare seal and finish to each drawing. (The acrylic products and brushes should be available in any art store.)
At that point, the backs and edges of the timber chunks remained unfinished. Since the bark was still firmly attached to one painting's rim, I left it in place and varnished over the rustic "frame" — and the back of the round — being careful not to slosh the coating onto the picture itself. The bark on the other slab had already peeled off, so I simply stained the raw edges a rich walnut hue before varnishing the sides and back. When the finish was dry, I equipped each plaque with two small wood screws and a length of sturdy picture-hanging wire, which completed the wood's transformation from stove food to a feast for the eyes.
Now if the idea of crafting a painting without a visit to the frame shop hasn't entirely won you over yet, you might consider other options for decorating some timber rounds. You could, for instance, simply mount a mirror — securing it with tile adhesive — and surround it with dried flowers. Or you might want to use the log ends to display photographs of landscapes, to bring the outdoors in … or of family members and special events such as weddings, to produce a portrait gallery that's decidedly out of the ordinary.
In fact, my frameless frame-ups can be put to a variety of decorative purposes that'll be limited only by your ingenuity and creativity … and, of course, by the contents of your woodlot!