Skill Level: Easy to Intermediate (This depends on how intricate your design is. Plus, you will work with a wood burnishing tool that’s hot!)
Tools needed: Thin plywood Cut-out design (the picture is a flower shape), wood burnishing tool, acrylic paint, paintbrush or sponge brush, jewelry cord–fabric or leather (fabric pictured), a jewelry charm, a single hole punch (optional) or something to safely punch a hole into thin plywood, a pencil, urethane coat/wood sealant (optional–not pictured here). I got all of this out of my local craft store.
Last year, I created some small indoor crafts that were given as gifts. This is the third of my 2016 summer crafting projects. Reminder: all of these went into birthday gift bags for some special girl friends! These projects were all made with a spa-vacation-relaxing-girls’ weekend in mind.
This is a pretty easy project to replicate. I wanted to delve more into wood crafts, and I thought a bookmark would be an easy project that wouldn’t be too expensive to make multiples of. (I wanted to get a spa-themed book to go with it, but that was not in the budget).
First, make sure your wood is sanded, dusted off/clean, dry so it can accept paint. I painted these flowers with Acrylic flat paint (If you want the color name and brand, please comment below) using a sponge or bristled paintbrush. Most acrylic paints will work on wood. Let paint dry.
After I painted these, I punched a hole through them (or tried to) with a single-hole punch, and then burnished the design on the front of the piece. Most craft store pieces have a noticeable front and back. To burnish the design: first I drew out the design lightly in pencil on the painted piece. Then I used my wood burnishing tool and traced the design. I traced slowly and pressed the tool hard into the design to burn off the pencil and to get through the paint, burning the wood. What you’ll notice (unless you have surgeon’s hands) is an inconsistency in your design: the longer you hold the tool in a spot, the more burned the wood will get, the darker the wood will be. This is where the character of burnished pieces comes in; it’s rustic and obviously hand done. No two will be identical.
After burnishing a design, let your piece cool (and unplug your burnishing tool to keep health hazards to a minimum). If you desire, you can add a coat of wood sealant or urethane sealant to your piece (just paint it on) to protect the paint. Your burnished design will stay on, so this is optional, but the paint may wear off with time. Cut a length of cord that when folded in half gives you enough length for the charm to hang outside of the book while the marker is laying flat inside the book. I used an average 500-page hardback book to test this on. This is not really exact here, because books are different sizes; just give yourself more length than you think you need. Thread the charm to the middle of your cut cord and secure the charm with a knot there. (If you have leather cord, you may have to secure it in another way. If it is a wide flat piece of leather, you don’t need to fold in half. Just use half the length you would have, make a hole at the end and secure charm with jewelry finishing hardware.) After bookmark is dry, thread the bookmark on the jewelry cord and tied ends in a knot. (For wide flat leather pieces, you may need jewelry finishing hardware here as well –jump rings, chains, etc. Click here for a how-to video.) Your bookmark is ready to use!
Lessons Learned: While this is a simple project, I did learn a few lessons.
- Never play around with wood burnishing tools. They are hot! I used a thermal glove after I realized I would need to press hard into the wood to make a significant burnish. I felt the heat from the tool even though I was holding the plastic handle. (JIC you are wondering: the tool pictured is a soldering tool. Soldering is for metal. (See TV Repair post.) Do NOT use a soldering tool when burnishing wood.)
- Paint before you burn. I tried painting after, and it covered my burnishing marks. So I had to re-burnish. In most instructions I’ve read that you can erase, but also with most instructions, they are only burning the wood; they aren’t painting.
- Trace with a pencil LIGHTLY. If you think you can erase after you burn, think again. That comes out looking messy and smudged.
- Seal for a nice finish. I did not do that here because of $ and because I was experimenting. But if I did this over, I would have painted and sealed some, and stained and sealed others just to see the polished look.