This challenge piece is really all about the wood!
On my challenge list is one entry entitled drift wood. I have a LOT of small pieces of drift wood!! I very seldom see any driftwood on Hastings beach but a couple of years ago I bought a big batch of it online that I saw going for a good price. The intention was always to use it as bases for the small bronze critters I occasionally make.
As it has been washing around in the sea for so long the wood is mostly quite bleached in colour and rough-ish. It needed a finish on it to make it nice. I've tried Renaissance Wax, I've tried oiling the wood, whatever I use sinks in straight away and the wood looks no different even after quite a few treatments. I didn't want to add a varnish coating to it so the wood got placed to one side, another thing for another day! :)
It is interesting how ideas suddenly hit you though. Last week I was reading a newspaper supplement and it mentioned Shou Sugi Ban (sometimes called Yaki Sugi) as a treatment for antiquing and preserving cedar cladding on buildings. Well that immediately piqued my interest (it's that Japanese influence again! ;) ) and off I went to do some Googling!!
Basically the process involves blasting the wood with a flame to create a charred outer surface, and then cleaning the wood up well afterwards. It seemed like the perfect way to treat my little pieces of driftwood.
I geared myself up with everything I needed, heatproof surface, torch, bowl of water (safety precaution!), large tongs and some pieces of driftwood and headed out into the fresh air! It was fun! The main thing was to make sure I got an even charring and that the wood did not actually catch fire and keep burning!! Making sure I was upwind and not downwind also REALLY helped!! :)
Thankfully the bowl of water proved to be surplus to requirements and I didn't incinerate anything :) I let the pieces cool off and then set about brushing the surface of the wood with a stiff brush to remove the loose charred particles.
The results were lovely! Different types of wood obviously reacted differently, some stayed very smooth, other had wonderful pronounced surface graining. They all had a really nice subtle sheen without any other treatment.
The two discs were commercial wooden pendants - you can see how much surface I lost in this comparison of them.
The piece of wood I chose to put Slippery Sid onto already had a couple of small holes in the surface. First I added some Renaissance Wax to increase the glow in the wood. This time the wax worked well on the surface.
I drilled a small hole into the base of Sid and put a small wire peg into one hole in the wood so Sid didn't slip off the wood (sorry Sid!), then I added a tiny enamelled ammonite into the other hole for a touch of colour :)
I really like the result. The dark wood sets of the bronze beautifully. I'll be doing more of this! :)