How to Prepare Driftwood to Use for Art

Prepare your piece of driftwood for use in an artistic sculpture or other craft.
Prepare your piece of driftwood for use in an artistic sculpture or other craft. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Driftwood, weathered and pale from years of exposure to salt water and sea air, washes up on the shores of beaches around the world. Many shore-goers collect driftwood for its white cast and papery texture. You can prepare the wood for display on its own or assemble it into a sculpture. Prevent molding and insect infestation by treating your wood before using in your next art project.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Scrub brush
  • Butter knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Wood sealant
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Gloves (optional)

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Place the driftwood in a bowl filled with warm water and allow it to soak for half an hour.

Scrub away dirt, algae and other debris stuck to the wood's surface, with a scrub brush. Remove gravel or seaweed from small crevices using the tip of a butter knife. Rinse the wood thoroughly and set it aside on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Place the driftwood outdoors in direct sunlight. Allow the wood to dry completely for two to three days.

Smooth rough patches of wood using a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper and a back-and-forth motion. Use a paintbrush to remove sanding dust from the wood once you are finished.

Brush on a thin layer of sealant, such as turpentine or natural beeswax, to preserve the wood. Allow the sealant to dry, according to the manufacturer's suggestion, before using the driftwood in your art project.

Tips & Warnings

  • To lighten the wood's color, add a small amount of bleach to the bowl of water. Use gloves while handling and scrubbing the wood.
  • Some beaches do not allow you to remove driftwood, seashells or other marine life. Before collecting driftwood, check the posted rules at the beach entry point.

References

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