Recently, while visiting an aunt in Merseyside, I went to see Sir Antony Gormley’s Another Place, the installation of life-size cast-iron figures that stretch along two miles of the foreshore and more than half a mile out to sea.
Over the years, the ebb and flow of the tides has left many of the statues covered in barnacles, and other odd bits of sea detritus hang from various body parts, adding to the eeriness.
Back at home, I decided to make something as a reminder of my visit, using the many small pieces of wood that I had picked up on the beach. I have decorated a picture frame, covering it with driftwood and shells, and transformed it into a handy blackboard on which I write notes and make lists.
You will need
- Flat picture frame with backboard or ready-made children’s blackboard (from toy shops)
- Blackboard paint (if not using ready-made blackboard)
- Small saw
- Gorilla or other wood glue
- Clamps – spring clamps and/or G clamps (available from B&Q and good hardware stores), or anything that will hold the driftwood in place until the glue dries
- Sea shells and/or bits of sea glass
How to make
I adapted a flat wooden picture frame, but if you prefer you could just decorate the edge of a ready-made blackboard.
If using a picture frame, begin by removing the glass and back board. Paint the front of the board with two or three coats of blackboard paint, allowing it to dry completely in between, then set this aside while you decorate the frame.
Arrange the driftwood around the edge of the frame, taking time to consider which direction best fits the gentle curves of the wood and to ensure the pieces complement each other. Think about the scale and whether you want the pieces to point into the frame or outwards.
You may need to shorten some to make them fit; this is easily done using a small saw, rounding off the raw edges with sandpaper.
Working on one side of the frame at a time, begin glueing the wood into place. I used a product called Gorilla Glue, which eventually dries harder than the wood itself and is clear, too.
Wood glue usually takes a while to set, so use clamps to hold the pieces in place and don’t remove these until the glue is thoroughly dry.
When all four sides are complete, finish off your frame by using the same glue to stick on small shells or bits of sea glass, filling in any gaps or joins between the wood.
Complete by putting the blackboard back in place (but not the glass).
This same technique could be used to cover a photograph or mirror frame, and the frame can be as large as you like as long as you have enough materials to cover it.
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