How to Decorate Homemade Wooden Crosses

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A plain wooden cross leaves lots of room for creativity.
A plain wooden cross leaves lots of room for creativity. (Image: wooden cross image by Georgios Kollidas from Fotolia.com)

Crosses can be both a decorative item and a way to show your faith. Many people also use wooden crosses to memorialize a family member after death. Decorating a wooden cross for a garden or other outdoor display means adding a personal touch to a traditional icon. As an artistic project or way to honor a loved one, decorating a wooden cross can be a healing way to express yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Vice
  • Grapevine or barbed wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Heavy duty staples
  • Staple gun
  • Heavy gloves or garden gloves
  • Clear lacquer spray
  • Wood stain or paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Hot glue gun
  • Clear glue sticks
  • Craft glass rounds
  • Clear silicone caulk

Religious Reflection

Post your wooden cross in the ground or in a vice in your workshop so you can work in the round without having to handle the cross or materials.

A vice grip can hold your cross in place while you work.
A vice grip can hold your cross in place while you work. (Image: vice image by Tomasz Plawski from Fotolia.com)

Take the end of a length of grapevine or barbed wire. The length of the material varies dependent upon the size of the cross. Start with 4 yards of material for a medium-sized cross and add or cut with wire cutters as necessary.

Barbed wire is difficult to work with but very symbolic of the crown of thorns.
Barbed wire is difficult to work with but very symbolic of the crown of thorns. (Image: Barbed wire image by Hlynur Vidar from Fotolia.com)

Attach the grapevine or wire to the bottom of the cross using heavy-duty staples. Use a staple gun to connect the material to the wooden cross.

A heavy duty staple gun and deep staples make attaching wire easy.
A heavy duty staple gun and deep staples make attaching wire easy. (Image: heavy duty stapler image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com)

Wear heavy gloves to handle the wire (or garden gloves for grapevine) and wrap the material around the straight upward portion of the cross.

Heavy leather-covered work gloves protect hands while working with barbed wire.
Heavy leather-covered work gloves protect hands while working with barbed wire. (Image: work gloves image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Move the material back down and to the left and right of the cross to wrap the arms. This will make the center of the cross a bit thicker and add more interest to the piece.

A wooden cross with longer arms provides more room for enhancement.
A wooden cross with longer arms provides more room for enhancement. (Image: cross image by Gonçalo Carreira from Fotolia.com)

Bring the end of the material to the back-center of the cross and secure with a heavy duty staple.

Staples come in many sizes, so be sure to get staples with long enough "legs" to hold the wire.
Staples come in many sizes, so be sure to get staples with long enough "legs" to hold the wire. (Image: staples image by Alex White from Fotolia.com)

Spray the cross with a clear lacquer to make the piece water resistant and further secure the attached material.

Use ample ventilation when spraying lacquer.
Use ample ventilation when spraying lacquer. (Image: spray with a cap image by Yasen Pramatarov from Fotolia.com)

Sparkling Tribute

Paint the wood cross with a light wood stain or white opaque outdoor paint with a medium-sized brush. Allow to dry.

Choose outdoor stain or paint to increase its weather resistence.
Choose outdoor stain or paint to increase its weather resistence. (Image: croix image by laurent gehant from Fotolia.com)

Heat up your hot glue gun and clear glue sticks. Use heavy duty clear glue for the best result.

Use clear glue sticks to eliminate distractions on the cross.
Use clear glue sticks to eliminate distractions on the cross. (Image: Hot glue gun isolated image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com)

Mix up the assortment of glass round pieces to apply an unplanned pattern or divide glass pieces by color if you are adding specific details.

Glass rounds come in a wide variety of colors.
Glass rounds come in a wide variety of colors. (Image: red and white glass pieces image by Vita Vanaga from Fotolia.com)

Starting at the top of the cross, place glass rounds, flat side down onto the cross. Complete a section to your liking before gluing in place.

Place glass first before gluing into place to perfect your design.
Place glass first before gluing into place to perfect your design. (Image: white glass image by Vita Vanaga from Fotolia.com)

Using the hot glue, apply a dollop of glue to the flat side of the glass and press firmly onto the cross. Continue placing the glass closely together to cover the wood cross.

Apply glass to both sides of the cross to use in the center of a garden or in front of a house.

Glass rounds will reflect light and brighten a garden.
Glass rounds will reflect light and brighten a garden. (Image: colorful glass pebbles image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com)

Apply a clear silicone caulk around the glass rounds to further secure and protect the project if you plan on leaving it outdoors year round.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seal all outdoor wooden crosses with a clear weatherproof sealant.
  • Always check the labels of paints and sealants to make sure they are weather resistant when using your wooden crosses outdoors.

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