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Make A Driftwood Snake Using Pyrography And Finish With Acrylic Paint

Updated on September 25, 2011

Go Driftwood Hunting

I picked this pile of driftwood for making Snakes, I call it SNAKEWOOD
I picked this pile of driftwood for making Snakes, I call it SNAKEWOOD

Make A Snake With Relative Ease

This art project is not only fun, it is a pretty simple idea. That makes it good for beginners who would like to express some creativity in pyrographics, otherwise known as woodburning. Boyscout and Girlscout troops as well as individuals will have fun using this idea as a first time project and, may even want to expand on the idea, after making a few snakes of their own. Let's take a look at what will be needed with regard to tools and materials before I outline directions and suggestions.

Materials To Make Snakes From Driftwood

  • driftwood
  • sandpaper
  • acrylic paint

Tools You Will Need

  • a woodburning pen
  • paint brushes
  • water container
  • color pallet or tray

Make A Choice And Get To Work

Mark the middle of the snake's back, to keep your pattern in line.
Mark the middle of the snake's back, to keep your pattern in line.

Details On Making A Good Choice Of Driftwood

With your tools awaiting and paint set at hand you are ready to pick out the wood you will use to make a snake. I like to keep a handful of driftwood sticks in my studio. I like to keep as much driftwood as I have room for but that is because it is one of my favorite mediums to create with.

Hunt Some Snake Wood

Let's say you do not have any driftwood laying around and you are going to go hunting for some "snake" wood. A good time to hit the beaches in search of this driftwood is when the wind has been blowing hard into the shore. This washes up more wood than when the wind is blowing away from the shore. I would bet that many of you never gave this much thought. I watch the weather channel so that I am very aware of which way the wind is blowing and how hard. The wind has a great baring on many of my routine activities. I like to fish a few times each week. That wind information often dictates what I do on any given day... so I pay attention.

Now that I have your attention, focus it on SNAKES. That is what you will be looking for in a driftwood stick. The great thing about this is that a straight stick will serve fine as a snake. Then any other stick that strikes you as a possible snake, will probably work. I suggest that you test the sticks you pick for durability. It would be sad to spend a lot of time making a snake that will snap at the slightest force. I think a little shock test is in order when you are making your choice. Experience has taught me that many of my handcrafted snakes wind up in the hands of small children. Little boys can be especially rough on one of these snakes. The right choice of driftwood will ensure a sturdy finished product. Have fun hunting for your snake wood.

Woodburn First

Now that you have your driftwood selected let's think about a pattern to decorate the snake with. There are many different kinds of snakes in nature. Some are distinguished from others by their colors and skin patterns. You can try utilizing the natural patterns found on real snakes to decorate your driftwood,or create your own color patterns to design a snake that will match some room or color scheme found in your home or office.This is what always makes artwork fun and exciting. I made a snake a few years ago for a lawyer who works in Chicago. He is an avid comic book collector and I used colors that portrayed his love of the superheros found in comic books. Use your imagination and do not be afraid to experiment with the colors and patterns.

The hardest thing to do is keep the pattern centered on the back of the snake as you are woodburning. I strongly suggest that you make small marks on the center of the back from one end of the driftwood stick to the other so that you can keep your pattern in line with the snakes back. Otherwise you can easily get off track and wind up with the pattern going where you do not want it to be. This is especially true when doing diamond backs. A little practice and you will better understand what I am suggesting here.

I Used A Diamond Back Pattern

I also burned in some eyes with very simple lines.
I also burned in some eyes with very simple lines.

Time To Decorate With Acrylic Paint

I picked the color red to make my Snake vibrant.
I picked the color red to make my Snake vibrant.
I also picked a dark forrest green wash to tone it down and make it match a room I plan to use this snake for.
I also picked a dark forrest green wash to tone it down and make it match a room I plan to use this snake for.

Paint It With Artists' Acrylic Paint

You are ready to decorate your snake with color when you are finished woodburning the pattern you picked. You can add just a small amount of color or you can do any combination that works for your idea of a finished project. I have made snakes from simple to detailed and each one is totally unique. Since the material for this project is relatively inexpensive, you can enjoy creating many snakes without spending much money. Have fun with this art project let your imagination run wild.

Children Love These Small Snakes

I have made and sold so many Snakes from driftwood sticks that I have lost count on them. I know that most of them wind up as toys or, decorations for kid's rooms. This is what makes them so much fun.There is a certain pleasure that comes from watching a child play with one of the snakes. I think you too would enjoy the gift of GIVING so, make a snake for someone you know.

The Finished Product Is Always One Of A Kind

This is a great first time project, with the simple design and ease of creating.
This is a great first time project, with the simple design and ease of creating.


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    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from NW Indiana

      Norwayblonde, here is another article that will help with your project,

    • profile image 

      9 years ago

      How would you prep driftwood for painting? What would you use?

    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from NW Indiana


      I have made Native American Talking Sticks and walking sticks and then also use the straight pieces in some of my wall hangings and mobiles. Give the wood burner a try but is addicting. Thanks for commenting.

    • pjk_artist profile image


      9 years ago from Turkey Point, ON

      Great idea! I walk the beach of Lake Erie all the time looking at a gazillion pieces of driftwood...all straight and boring...thinking to myself...there must be some creative way to use this wood. Snakes are perfect.

      Have you used this type of driftwood in any other ways?

      Woodburning's a good idea too. I think I might try some Celtic knot designs.


    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from NW Indiana


      First off, thanks for commenting. I would suggest that you try a clear acrylic spray varnish. You can buy this in several different kinds of finish, like gloss, high gloss, satin and so on. That gives you a chance to finish it the way you pictured it in your mind's eye.

      Here is the trick. Before you do it.

      Test your zebra ink and the spray finish on another piece of wood that is similar to the lighthouse. I think what you will need to do is put a very light coat at first to keep the signature from running. Don't spray a puddle but rather a mist. A few light coats will seal it in.

      Do practice on some wood that does not matter to you first. Practice makes perfect! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks again for stopping to visit.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I have just started doing some pyrography and have finished a lighthouse on basswood and I don't know what kind of coat to finish over my acrylic Paint.

      I also signed it with a zebra Pen. I am afraid it will bleed if a put a coat of the wrong material over it.


      I am going out today to walk the beach here in OR and will pick up some sneaks. (I hope) Thanks for the suggestion.


    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      10 years ago from Tucson, Az

      I have been messing around with pyrography for five years...I love it! I have never used driftwood as a medium however, which is shameful...I am forty-five minutes from Gulf Shores...gourds are my medium of choice then basswood. The thing that I love about your Hub is the painting. I am not the best with paint and this has inspired me. Thank you!

    • C.S.Alexis profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from NW Indiana


      If I have inspired you then I am doing what I have hoped for. Thank you for becoming a fan and I do look forward to having you as a friend as well as a fan. Watch for upcoming articles on "How Tos" with more of my artistic adventures coming soon. Thanks again! C.S.

    • agvulpes profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      CS I love doing things with my hands, but I've never tried Pyrography.

      Seeing what a great job you have done has inspired me to have a go.

      I just love your snakes and I'll become a fan so I can keep looking at your art!

    • SweetiePie profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I love the creativity of this project and wow, never thought of using driftwood! It reminds me of the Moody Blues song driftwood, but sorry to deviate. I really would like to try something like this one day. Thanks for sharing.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      11 years ago from New Brunswick

      This is very cool, I have recntly taken to walking the shores of the river seeking out driftwood,more to make canes and walking sticks, but I had not thought of snakes or woodburning, thanks.

    • profile image

      Eddie Perkins 

      11 years ago

      Cool!!! Thanks for sharing. ~ eddie

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      11 years ago from NW in the land of the Free as can be..nice job....Thanks for sharing..G-Ma :o) hugs


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