If you’ve stopped by a roadside vendor or at a specialty Christmas store to admire the handcrafted wooden holiday yard art you were probably smitten right up until you saw the price tag! Hand made items bring a premium price due to the amount of time and work put into them. If you are a little bit crafty and are willing to invest the time, you can make your own beautiful yard decorations for a fraction of the price of buying them ready-made.
To begin, you will need to gather your supplies together. The supplies you require will depend on the size and type of decoration you will be making. Lighted holiday displays will of course require outdoor strand lights. A basic supply list will include:
- Jig saw
- Paint grade plywood (large enough for your artwork)
- Paint (crafters latex paints work just fine and are available in numerous colors)
- Sandpaper, fine and coarse grade
- Spray enamel sealant
- Strand lights
- Wooden stakes, height depends on size of project
- Butterfly nuts and bolts
- Large sheets of craft paper for drafting patterns
- Tape or spray adhesive
- Large lead pencil
- Safety goggles and gloves
Once you have all your supplies and are ready to begin creating you will first need to settle on a design. There are many ways of going about creating the design, or pattern for your project. A good rule of thumb is to keep the outline of the pattern and smooth and simple as possible. Intricate designs are harder to cut with the jig saw and more time consuming. Of neither of those issues is a factor, feel free to get intricate in your design work!
However, if you are a novice woodworker it would be best to keep the pattern simple. For design inspiration, children’s’ coloring books are wealth of potential! The simple line drawings are easy to enlarge either on a copy machine, or by free hand drawing using the coloring book image as a guide. Book stores often sell a variety of craft books that include patterns indented for replication and use in craft projects. You can also hire (or ask an artistic friend) artists to draw out a pattern for you.
Once you have established your pattern, draw or transfer it onto a single piece of craft paper (for very large designs you may have to tape several sheets of paper together). Cut the design out and view it from a few feet back to make sure you are happy with the proportions before you cut it out of plywood. Make any necessary changes to the pattern and again, transfer to a sheet of craft paper and then cut it out.
Lay your cut out pattern on a piece of plywood. If you are using plywood that only has one good side, place the pattern on top of the good side. Secure the pattern with tape or spray adhesive. Trace around the pattern with a pencil (pencils with a large lead point, such as a carpenters pencil are easiest to work with and make a smooth, thick line that is easy to see when you begin to cut the wood). Remove the pattern and check to make sure it was completely traced. Put on your safety gear and carefully cut out your design with a jig saw following the pencil pattern lines.
When you are done cutting, sand the rough edges around your design using the rougher sandpaper first, then the finer grades until the edges are smooth. If the surface of your design is also rough it would be best to sand it smooth. When you are done sanding use damp rags to wipe the piece clean of all dust.
Prime your design with 2-3 coats of a primer/sealer that is designed for plywood. This will prevent the plywood from soaking up your decorative painting work and ruining your paint job. Let the piece dry between each coat of primer. When the piece has been primed and is thoroughly dry you can finish with decorative painting. The final step once your decorative paintwork is done is to finish it with a spray on enamel sealant to weatherproof your paint.
Using your drill equipped with a bit that corresponds to the size of the bolts you purchased drill at least two holes in your finished project and your wooden stake. Leave 6-12 inches of the stake extended below your project to be driven into the ground to hold it in place. Thread the bolts through the holes on your project and the stake and secure in back with the butterfly nuts. The butterfly nuts are easy to remove so the stake can be removed for storage each year.
If you would like for your piece to be lighted, use a pencil to mark dots on your design where the lights will go. Drill holes with a drill bit slightly larger than the base of the lights you are using. From the back of your project, insert the lights through the holes and staple in place.
Be sure NOT to staple through the wiring of the lights! If the bulbs are larger than their base, unscrew them, insert the base of the light bulb from the back of the piece and then screw the bulb back in from the front. Now your yard art is done! Use it to decorate your own yard, or give away as a gift.Be sure NOT