If you’re at all curious how I’ve made these little babies, I’d love to show you a little run down and behind the scenes on the process!
Here’s a list of materials and links :
Small Wood Slices
*A note on wood I’ve tried: so far I’ve purchased two different types, a bag 20 of birch pieces from Michaels (these are larger and much thicker) and a bag of 100 rosewood slices from Amazon. Overall I prefer the mini birch pieces. They were more consistent in surface quality while rosewood tended to be rougher and varied a lot. The thicker mini birch slices are honestly much easier to handle through out the entire magnet making process too.
150 Grit Sandpaper
Transparent Gesso (I used Liquitex brand)
Micron pen (or other waterproof pen of choice)
*you can use any of these mediums - I’ve been using mostly watercolors and gouache so far.
Spray varnish (this is the kind I'm currently using since its left over from other projects but any will do.)
Step One: SURFACE PREP // SANDING
Sand each piece front and back. A smooth surface is far easier to work on and looks way better in the end! The easiest method for me has been to lay the sand paper face up on my work surface and move the wood piece around in a circular motion, with even pressure applied. You will need to wipe off extra wood dust from surface to check the smoothness.
Step Two: SURFACE PREP // GESSO
Gesso prepares the woods surface for painting. It’s slightly textured and helps the paint stick to the wood. Don't forget to Shake well! Apply a layer of gesso to the best side of each piece using a paint brush. You could also use a foam brush to do the same. Allow it to dry (about an hour seems to be enough) and then lightly sand one last time to even the texture.
Here's a look at the surface difference between each stage of the wood prep process:
Step Three: DRAW YOUR DESIGNS AND PAINT!
Here comes the fun part!
Using a pencil, sketch out your designs!
Once satisfied, trace your pencil sketch with waterproof pen. If you'd rather not have visible pen lines, skip ahead and start painting!
I use .005 Micron pens, the fine tip allows me to get smaller lines and finer details. You can use whatever size suits your design needs. The pen tips can get eaten up by the surface of the wood depending on how well you've sanded the surface. Surface prep in this case is super important; by taking the time in the beginning to get a nice smooth surface, you will have a much easier time drawing and painting in the end. It will also save you on pens!
Once everything has been drawn out in pen to your satisfaction, get to painting!
If you're using watercolors like me, I recommend letting the pieces dry between washes of color.
Step Four: SPRAY VARNISH
After painting and letting your pieces dry once again, give the surfaces a good spray down with a can of spray varnish. You can get this at any art supply or craft store. The one I use is a UV Archival spray from Krylon (linked in the materials list), that I use for other art work as well. Make sure to follow the directions listed on the container and spray in a well ventilated area. I usually end up spraying 2 coats, I allow them to completely dry in between.
Step Five: POLYURETHANE VARNISH
Using a brush, apply a layer of polyurethane varnish to the front side of the wood pieces. Coat each piece twice, allowing them to dry in between. After the fronts are done,
apply the varnish to the backs in the same manner, applying twice. Make sure if you are using the mini birch slices, that you also coat the sides as well to help preserve the bark!
Step Six: MAGNETS
Using a hot glue gun, apply the magnets to the backs of each wood piece. Mind your fingers! I did get burned after applying too much glue and sticking on the magnet. If you'd like to avoid using hot glue all together, you can find magnets with 3M adhesive circles included. The magnets shown in the video below are not Neodymium magnets, these were flexible craft magnets I found at Michaels. They are larger, which makes them easier to handle but I ended up not liking them as much due to the difference in the magnet strength.
Head on over to the shop if you’re interested in purchasing one’s I’ve made or to commission some pet portrait magnets!
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