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How To Create A Gift Of A Lifetime With Mixed Media And Pyrographics

Updated on April 26, 2011
It Hangs At The Entrance To Their Boat Slip
It Hangs At The Entrance To Their Boat Slip

What Do You Do When You Want To Make A Very Special Gift?

There are times when the situation arises, where you want to come up with a very special gift and, you just do not know where to find it. It could be the gift recipient has almost everything they could possibly need or want. This makes purchasing the gift difficult. Maybe a special occasion is the reason why you want to be picky about the gift you will give. Whatever your reason for being particular, you can always make a gift that will shine in the receivers possession, forever.

Explore The Character Of Who Is Going To Receive Your Gift

When you decide to design a gift for someone and, you want to make it extra special, it is a good plan to think about your recipients life and times. You can use ideas from who they are, what they do and, what they like as a starting point for your creation. You should make a list of things that pertain to that person. This will cultivate a personalized theme for your design. With your list in hand you can better realize where you need to go with your plan for creating a unique gift. The article that follows is an example of how I developed and decided to make a gift of a lifetime for friends who were going to get married. It could serve as a motivator for anyone who would like to create a cherished gift.

BB-Q's, Bathing Suits, Beers and Friends

EAT, DRINK, and Be Merry
EAT, DRINK, and Be Merry

Try To Incorporate Material and Medium Into The Theme

A trick to designing a gift that will shine in your recipients eyes instead of commanding a shrug of indifference is, matching an art medium to the theme of the event it will pertain to. Baby items could be soft and cuddly, a little boy might be blue. A gardener 's gift might be made from raw plant material such as dried flowers. Making something for a formal affair could include lace or script lettering. The choices of medium can enhance or distract from the finished product. Make sure to consider this when deciding on what you will design.

Do What You Know

Since I am a long time artist and enjoy the craft of woodburning I decided to employ that craft in developing and designing my gift. I wanted this to be extra special so using their nicknames on the dock, would be my center of attention for this design. I rummaged through a collection of old boards I had gathered from the beaches over the years. I was searching for that perfect piece of wood to woodburn. I wanted to use wood from a boat or a dock or something on that order.

Digging Through My Collection Of Art Material Inspired Me

They were getting married or Tieing the Knot in slang. I could somehow use a lenghth of rope to make this happen.The board I chose was picked for it's size. I needed something that I could attach a length of antique mooring rope to. I wanted to include shipyard elements to the finished product to stay within the character of the event. It would take a stout board to hold such heavy rope. The rope was also something I had picked up at a garage sale because I thought I might use it creatively someday. When I saw the rope the idea came to me.

I would fashion a knot and attach it to a board and add their names and WALAH! No it was not going to be that simple, but the thoughts and materials were coming together. I knew that the lettering would be done with the woodburner but I had to draw out the letters on paper and then transfer them to the wood. I did not like the exact shape of the board I had decided on so those had to be changed. The other problem was the rope was extremely stiff and difficult to hold into place. I had to figure out how to attach the rope to the board.

This Woodburning Technique

Doing simple bold outlines, small patterns and lettering are basics for a novice crafter. Employing the craft of pyrography can be a good way to lend a feel for age and history. This media is easily adapted to a rough, earthy, old fashioned feel. In the instance of wanting to do a dock/marine/boat theme and incorporate as many of the elements involved from my list of personalized information on the gift recipient, woodburning was a good choice of medium for the job. The character of the medium contains an antique quality that is inherent by nature. The words RUSTIC, RAW, OLD FASHIONED, ANTIQUE and, BOLD all come to mind when I ponder woodburning. I would suggest you keep your choice of mediums within the theme of your subject whenever you begin designing any gift you want to make.

Dave And Pam Were Finally Tieing The Knot

The ceremony was going to take place aboard ship. The entire group of people who lease a boat slip on our dock were invited to attend. This was not too surprising since most of us spend a good deal of time throughout the warm weather months, on the dock at the lake. We have group gatherings and BB-Q's, birthday parties and so on. Generally speaking, the atmosphere on the dock is based on relaxation and enjoyment. That always includes plenty of cocktails and cold brew. Along with the festive atmosphere comes lots of joking and laughter. There are all kinds of nicknames for the locals and funny stories to go along with those names. It so happened that the two who were tieing the knot, each had earned fond nicknames, for their affiliation over the years. I decided I would utilize those nicknames to create a most memorable gift.

Putting It All Together

Woodburner and wood in hand I headed to the backyard where I like to work because there is plenty of fresh air. I had a rough sketch of the lettering on plain paper and I transferred it to the wood using a sheet of carbon paper. I fashioned a knot that would be placed in the middle of my creation as a symbol of the marriage union. I then woodburned my sketch into the wood. As soon as that was done I very lightly sanded the finished pyrographics to remove any loose ash resulting during the process of burning. Now the wood was ready for a coating of protective sealer.

I like to use tung oil to finish wood that is going to be exposed to extreme elements. This is a varnish that has been used for years in marine applications. It is extremely durable and can be applied with a lint free rag or a brush. I used a brush because I wanted a heavy coating for plenty of protection. I repeated this process of varnishing for three heavy coats. This required letting the piece dry 24 hours between applications. Three days later I was ready to add the final touches to my work.

How To Attach The Heavy Rope

When the finish was so dry that it did not mark with fingerprints upon applying pressure, I was ready to add the knot and hanging device. I decided to make a hanger that would carry the marine theme and give the work some form of unity. This rope is very stiff, made to handle harsh conditions. I had to nail it into place using long wire brad nails and a hammer. These, I found in a jar full of misc. hardware I keep laying around just for this type of need. I had to work slowly and carefully so that I did not mar the finished piece. Now, WALAH!, My creation was completed.

Let Your Heart Inspire You

Now that I have shared my approach to developing a gift that stands out from the norm I want to share a few words of encouragement. The first thing is, people seem to enjoy the fact that someone would take their time and energy to handcraft a gift, rather than purchase something from the store. This kind of gift will be treasured forever and is often passed on to future generations because of sentimental feelings. Do not be shy about putting your heart into your creation. It does not make a difference what kind of medium you are working with. Handmade items are most often the most cherished so do what you know best or give the idea shown here a try. You can easily adapt another theme to this approach. Plan your project and then go for it. Be creative! The proof is in the smiles and hugs you will receive for your work.


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    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from NW Indiana


      I bet I would like him! Thank you for reading this article and sharing. C.S.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Nice idea! At one time my uncle made his front lawn look like a ships hull (sp?) he would have liked that.

    • Dottie1 profile image


      11 years ago from MA, USA

      This hub was fun to read. What a unique and creative wedding gift. Definately a gift of a lifetime. How talented are you!

    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from NW Indiana

      Thank all of you for reading here, glad you enjoyed the article SweetiePie, angeliousand donnalee. Yes pyrographics are very versatile SweetiePie. That is one of the things I enjoy about the craft. C.S.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Very creative and I like how you can do some many different things with pyrographics.

    • angellous profile image


      11 years ago from Coventry UK

      Wonderful I did so enjoy this Hub

    • donnaleemason profile image


      11 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      Very creative and a nice piece of art.

    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from NW Indiana

      Thank you jedgrey. Glad you enjoyed! C.S.

    • jedgrey profile image


      11 years ago from Texas


      Really creative, great hub


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