Monday, January 4, 2010
Rustic yard furniture is fast becoming a popular trend in home decorating. It not only helps create that feeling of simplicity, but has a warmth and sincerity apart from bringing elements of nature close to us.
Making these functional sculptures can turn into a rewarding craft particularly for those who like handiwork. However, you require a minimum of formal woodworking experience to start making rustic yard furniture.
As a rule of thumb, use dry wood or dead fallen trees for a first effort. Also identify those pieces of wood with unusual bark patterns as they make a more decorative finished piece. Although it is easier to make furniture from straight pieces, it can also be the least exciting to view. The selection of wood, the design, the placement of wood and even its intended use gives a rough idea about the artist who made it rather than it does about the furniture or trees.
To get started, identify your favorite piece of conventional furniture and then try copying it. Take your favorite chair to your woodpile and collect twig twins for all the parts. Very soon, interesting choices will present themselves and you will find yourself developing designs and preferences. In short, a style will begin to emerge. After you gather all needed tools and the twigs in one location, try picking the drawing for the chair that you wish to create. First make specific measurements and then add in detail the exact size of the rustic furniture that you plan to create. Although measurements can vary according to personal preferences, try and maintain an unity throughout.
The main challenge of a rustic chair is making its seat. Use smooth planks or round twigs. Use a saw to cut down twigs and branches. Once the seat of the chair is formed, hammer the twigs to the seat of the chair using several nails for each twig. Then add arms to the chair by hammering on twigs. Add some small decorative twigs to the back of the seat if you wish to use a special design at the top of the chair. You can also use leather strips, ash and hickory bark or even upholstering with old quilts and a weave of twisted rags, but simplicity works best.
Hammer the twigs for the four legs of the chair into the seat bottom in the four seat corners. Once completed, ensure that the chair legs are equal in length by placing it on an even surface. Also check for loose nail tips that might be protruding out. Now sit on the chair and check whether it is sturdy.
Like all wood furniture, rustic furniture also needs some kind of treatment and finish so as to not look like a random collection of sticks. As the dry bark needs more care than dry wood, first sandpaper the bark gently and then apply a generous coat of linseed oil cut mixed with a bit of turpentine. Reapply it again after a few days and let it dry well. Complete it with the use of furniture polish or more linseed oil so as to give it a matte, leather-like finish.
As a closing note the true delight of rustic yard furniture lies simply in living with it and in finding ways to use it.