Introduction: Turn an Old Dresser Into Art!
I don't know if you've noticed, but around here it seems every trash day there is old, dented, scraped up furniture sitting on the trash curb. I too was about to join the "out of sight, out of mind, pitch it" club with an old dresser, however I said "Hey, there's some nice pieces of lumber here. Lets see if I can't re-purpose them." I grabbed nails, thread (and a few tools) and made myself some personalize wall art, and you can too! Want to know more? Keep reading :)
Step 1: What You'll Need
A picture in your head and a few materials, that's it!
First find a piece / pieces of lumber from some old furniture. For this project I used the finished top of an old chest of drawers, and the front of the 5 drawers themselves. I'm from Michigan, here we have 5 Great Lakes, and I had 5 dresser drawers... coincidence? maybe... but it gave me my inspiration. That and the poor bare walls in my house :)
As seen above, you won't need a whole lot. Once you have your piece of lumber (or your creativity canvas, as I'd call it.) You'll need small nails. I used #18 gauge 1.25 in. nails. For this fairly large project I used 150 nails, so one package was still enough. You can pick these nails up at most hardware stores for less than a couple dollars.
The thread color is up to you and your creativity. I went with a white thread for this project to create some contrast between the thread and wood color. The thread was all purpose "dual duty" thread you can get at any craft store.
As far as tools, you'll need a hammer, scissors, a pen, and scotch tape. A few pieces of paper will be handy as well to trace your design.
Tip: If the re-purposed wood is marked up, you can rub walnut pieces, on the mark, and the oil will lessen the visibility of the marks, plus I find walnuts tasty and a good way to stay energized while pounding in 150 nails. More on this later.
Step 2: Ready to Begin!
The next step will be to cover your piece of wood with paper and draw out your design. For this project I am doing an outline of the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.
Be sure to secure the paper to the edges of the wood with tape, so it doesn't move around while you are pounding in your nails (next step).
Step 3: Hammer Time!
Once you have the outline of your art design it's hammer time!
I spaced my nails about 1 inch apart through the "straight" sections of my outline, and then put one nail at every curve of the drawing. The more nails you use the more detail you can achieve. Please use as many nails as you like.
I hammered my nails down about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch (about half their length) you want to leave enough room to wrap thread around the top of the nail, and make sure the nail is secured. Once the art is finished, there is some tension on the thread, so make sure the nail can't be pulled out by hand.
Step 4: Keep Hammering
I was half way done and needed some energy, hello walnuts! They kept me going to pound all 150 nails and finish the design. If you are allergic to walnuts, please find a tasty substitute, we don't need to exhaust ourselves!
Once all your nails are secured it's time to thread the boarder!
Step 5: Threading the Nails
Tip: I STRONGLY recommend that you leave the paper with the drawing on the wood while you thread the boarder of your design. I was never very good at "connect the dots" as a kid, and depending on your design, the nails can be placed close together and it can become tricky to remember which nail to thread next without the road map of the paper drawing.
Start your thread by tying a square knot around the first nail to secure it. Trim the tail of thread with the scissors.
Once tied, wrap the thread around the next nail and bring in back to the first to form an oval loop. Repeat the loop 5 times, then wrap the thread around the two nails in a figure 8 pattern 5 times. Repeat the loop and figure 8 wrapping 3 times and you should have enough thread around the 2 nails to make it appear as a solid piece of string. I suppose you could just use thicker string, but the look of the thinner thread gives great detail to the artwork.
Tip: Use your own creativity in determining the thickness of the thread around the nails. The above is just what I found worked for me and this design.
If the thread breaks (it happens) tie off the broken end to the nearest nail (again I found a simple square knot works fine) and then tie the new end to the next tail and just keep threading, just keep threading :)
Step 6: Finished Boarder, Walnuts, and You.
Once the boarder is threaded, it is time to remove the paper drawing. It's one of the "ta-da!" moments in this type of project. When removing the paper be careful not to pull the paper straight up from under the nails and thread. You don't want the thread to come off. Pull from the side and the paper will rip apart and come right out. If you have areas in your design with a lot of nails close together you may need the scissors or even a pair of tweezers to remove the small pieces of paper.
With the paper gone now is also a good time to use the "walnut oil trick" to reduce the visibility of any marks, scrapes in your re-purposed wood.
Once your happy with how your artwork looks it's time for the fun part! (As if you weren't having enough fun already!)
Step 7: Threading Across the Picture
Threading across the boarder is what makes your art really come alive.
For this picture I started in the lower left hand corner of the outline and threaded in an up and to the right pattern. I find that keeping the thread all angled in the same general direction looks pretty good, However! This is art! So if you want to thread in all different directions, you go for it! It will be awesome!
Tip: I found that if I wrapped the thread around the top of each nail head a couple times before moving on to the next nail I was less likely to have the thread slip off the nail head and undo all my threading over the past few nails.
Tip 2: Threading will go a lot easier if you keep a little tension on the thread while you are going between the nails. Try and keep the thread suspended between the nail tops and not sagging and touching the wood. Once you get overlap of the thread you'll be surprised how sturdy the thread is.
Step 8: Admire Your Art!
Here is the finished product along with the 5 drawer faces.
Taking wood that would have been trashed, a few cheap supplies, some patience, and inspiration I created some treasure!
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