Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Woodworking Tutorial: Waldorf inspired Rainbow Sprite

*** This Sprite/gnome is my original design and is provided here for your personal use only & not to copy for sale.  Thank you!***

I've had so many questions about the process of making our wooden toys that I decided to create this tutorial.  Thank you Tanya for the suggestion!  Also thank you all for your kind comments on my last woodworking post and for helping me come up with the name "Rainbow Sprite" for these little guys. 


I wish that I could show you the process of drawing and cutting them out but I did all my cutting in NY last fall at my Father-in-laws workshop.  I don't have a saw here.  However, I can tell you that I took scrap pieces of pine of varying thicknesses and drew what I wanted to make on them.  After I drew them very close together on the wood I cut them out on my Father-in-laws scroll saw.  Then I used a sander to quickly sand the outside curves and bottom. This is where my tutorial begins.

This wood is about an inch thick.  As you can see it's very roughly cut with scratches and grooves. 


If you have a Dremel tool buy or use your wood shaping bit.


Using the dremel I curved the sharp corners and smoothed out the deep grooves.  (And no I didn't actually sand on the play silk.  Just wanted a pretty backdrop!)



If you don't have a dremel you can use hand files to do all the smoothing. I have a Husky 10-piece file set which is very inexpensive.  After the Dremel I still use the files to add detail and smooth out any grooves the Dremel is too large to smooth out.  



Here you can see I added the detail of the chin and around the simple hands shape. 



At this point I use 3M Aluminum oxide 100 grit sand paper to smooth it out completely.  


 Then 150 grit.


Then 220.

By now it's very soft and smooth.  I use buffing paper to buff it even softer.


At this point is starts to have a bit of a "glow". You can see the wood grain clearly and it has a more yellowy almost translucent color to it.


With a pencil, I draw the detail that I want to wood burn. Or skip the wood-burner and paint the detail, whatever you prefer.  I drew the face line and the tulips at the base on both sides.  I forgot to draw the hand line! (doh! Oh, well!)  Here are some tips for the wood burner.  First practice on something else first because it takes some getting used to.  Mine has a flat edge so it's hard to create tiny curved lines.  Also use it before it gets too hot.  I like the more delicate burned line that I get by using it fairly quickly after plugging in.


After the wood-burning it's time to paint!



Use non-toxic tube or bottled watercolors.  To make the rainbow sprite, squeeze out a tiny amount of all the colors of the rainbow. Or you could use just red, yellow and blue and mix the colors in between.  For this  Sprite I decided to make it the reverse of the previous one I had made.  So I started with the red at the bottom and mixed as I worked my way up.  I do all sides at once fairly quickly so they blend well.  If after it dries there's a hard edge between colors, that you don't like, take a wet brush and blend the colors again.  For my first sprite I didn't like how bright it was so I went over it with a wet brush again to lighten the colors.  Make sure you leave the face, flowers and hands (which I forgot about), unpainted.  Allow it to dry, then paint the tulips and leaves.  Since the red is at the base I decided to make the tulips purple to contrast.



Once the paint is completely dry buff it again.  This makes it smooth like glass and irresistible to handle.  Then add the beeswax polish.  You can buy polish, there's one here at Palumba.  Or you can easily and inexpensively make your own.  There's a recipe here at Wee Folk Art made with olive oil, and another here at Beneath the Rowan Tree made using Jojoba oil.  Put a thin layer of the polish on with your fingers and leave for an hour or two.  Then wipe off the excess and buff with a clean cloth. Repeat at least twice and then again whenever you notice it looking dry. Works for dry hands too! I've read one family likes to polish at the start of each season.  I think that's such a great way of showing care and respect for our toys. 

I cheated and added the wood-burning to the hands after I polished.  I guess he's a little cold and wearing a muff!

If you use this tutorial please leave a comment with a link to your creations.  I would LOVE to see them!  And again, friends this is provided for your personal use only. 

Until next time...

26 comments:

  1. Those are SO, SO adorable! I have no woodworking skills (except the burning and painting). I wonder if you could find pre-cut gnomes somewhere. Maybe your father-in-law should start an etsy shop! ;)

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  2. Oooh, there is an etsy store that sells unfinished wood toys for you to finish. The shop is called Clickety Clack, http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClickityClack

    I haven't ordered from them, but I plan to. They are very inexpensive!

    Thanks!
    Becca

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  3. Thank you for sharing this fabulous process! I love these dolls!

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  4. I have been working on wooden creations for my next swap but this post has be inspired to start on other things too! Thanks so much for sharing this, I love getting a view into how other people do things too!!! :)

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  5. Hallie- what swap is that? Couldn't access your profile to find your blog. Would love to see what you're working on.

    Becca

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  6. Yippee! Many thanks for sharing the process. This will be sure to eliminate all sorts of trial-and-error for me as I prepare to get moving on the woodworking process. I think it's time to unpack that scroll saw...

    See how you inspire?!

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  7. Thank you so much for posting this I am so inspired, I too have no wood working experience not even burning, but I really want to learn, do you HAVE to have a scroll saw, is there any way to cut these guys with a dremel? I am asking for wood working tools for my birthday this year, but am not sure I am commited enough to invest in a scroll saw yet.

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  8. WOW!!! Thank you so much for the clickity Clack link, I just ordered the combined Fortress and walls set, the large fire element stacker, for our summer table and the knights and royalty cutouts. I am so excited to try my hand at finishing and painting the wood.

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  9. Seeds! You ordered exactly what I want to order! I'd like the castle, knights and dragons for Michael's Christmas present. Isn't that shop awesome! So inexpensive! Thanks so much for all of your kind comments. So glad to be able to share my process with you.

    Becca

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  10. These are so sweet and the colors look beautiful! I also love the trees. Thanks for the etsy link too. :)

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  11. wow, friend, these are incredible! absolutely beautiful...

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  12. eeek! Thank you for doing this! Can't wait to get started!

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  13. Oh, I need to make some of these -- and I have a scroll saw!! :-)

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  14. Seeds- sorry I forgot to answer this. I don't know if there's a cheaper way to go. There are saw bits that you can get for a dremel but I don't know if you could do tight curves with it. I'm so jealous of those of you with a scroll saw! I was surprised to see though that they're only around a $100 to buy and cheaper on ebay of course. Somehow I will manifest one!

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  15. wonderful! I love wood burning this is a project we have to try!

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  16. What a great tutorial! Between these gnomes and those fabulous eggs you made I think you've inspired me to get a wood burning pen and get working!

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  17. so, so, so, SO sweet!
    hmm..would you be up for a swap?
    :) xoxoxox
    bendingbirch@gmail.com

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  18. I'm on your blog for the first time. I love it! You make beautifull things!
    Greetings from the Netherlands,
    Severine

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  19. thank you for posting i do love this so much. it looks like something we might could do ! beautiful colors. x

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  20. So, so beautiful. Thank you very much for your detailed tutorial. I am asking for wood crafting stuff for my birthday and if mine turn out half as beautiful as yours i will be pretty pleased with myself!

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  21. Thanks all! A swap would be so fun Bending Birches! Tho for woodworking I'd have to get scroll saw first. Hopefully soon!

    Becca

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  22. These are so great. Have you looked on craigslist for a scroll saw? I bought mine for $50.

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  23. I am so motivated to try this. Thanks for this tutorial! x

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  24. This makes me really really want a scroll saw! I can't wait to buy one and come back to this tutorial. Thank you!

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  25. this are amazing. I was thinking about buying a wood burning tool and wondered what could i do with it, now i know. so inspiring, thank you for you kindness to show us the process. olivia

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