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Monday, July 29, 2013

Driftwood Sailboats {Tutorial}

I am a huge fan of nature-inspired decor and crafts. Honestly, a pretty rock, shell or piece of wood softened by time and the elements is truly a work of art in my eyes. 

Recently, I've been seeing some projects online that involved turning a piece of driftwood into a rustic little sailboat. I fell in love with the idea, and knew I wanted to give it a try and this week I got my opportunity!
Last Sunday we were invited to the baptism of a young friend of ours at a local creek.  After the service the kids were playing in the water and I spotted lots of pretty pieces of wood on the banks of the creek and I knew these would be my sailboats. I'm pretty sure I was the only mom there walking around with sandy, wet chunks of wood hanging out of her purse, but what are ya gonna do?  : )

 This was a fun, easy and fairly quick project. Another young friend of mine, Miss Elisabeth Jones, helped me with some of the photos for this post and also some designing of the boats. Thanks, Beth! I always appreciate a helper with a good eye : )


We started by choosing three pieces that would be the hulls of our boats, and three driftwood branches to be our masts. 

 We matched up our drill bit size with the branch we would be using, and drilled a hole (with Silas steadying the wood) into each "hull". Don't worry, he held very tightly, and I drilled very slowly :)

 Now, I think if your boats are just going to be sitting on your mantel looking cute, regular hot glue would be fine to put these together. I know mine will likely be played with, so I used Gorilla Glue, hoping that the hold will be tougher. Here are our three boats with masts glued in place. Elisabeth chose the mast in the center that sort of looks like it has a knee. Pretty cute, huh? 
I grabbed a piece of canvas from an old ironing board cover for the sails.


 I layed each boat on it's side on the canvas and used a pencil to sketch the shape of each sail, then cut it out with scissors.

I decided for the three different boats I would try three different methods of putting together the sails just for a little variety. 


 For this first one, I cut two separate sails and punched holes in the canvas with a nail. 

I used some heavy cotton string to lace through the holes, and tie the sails to the mast. 

Here it is with the sails tied on.

For this one, I added a little flag to the top of the mast (hot glued)

For the second boat, I also cut a sail in two pieces. On this one, though, I simply added a few spots of hot glue to secure it to the mast and hull.

For the third one, I went even simpler than that. I cut a one-piece triangle of canvas for the sail. I ironed this piece with a little spray starch to help it hold it's shape, but I think it probably would have been okay without that step. I simply hot glued the fabric triangle right to the mast.

I wanted a slightly tattered look to all the sails, so I just dragged my fingernail down the edge of the fabric to slightly fray it.

That's all there is to it. Simple, nature-inspired and fun! We'll be in California in a couple of weeks, where I'll try to gather up a few pieces of "authentic" ocean driftwood : )

I plan to give one of these to our young friend who was baptized in the creek where these little pieces of wood also gained a new life. To the bottom I'll add her name and the date that she publicly chose to follow Christ in baptism in a cold creek on a hot summer day in Colorado, surrounded by her church family.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today, friends!

I hope I've inspired you to maybe give a driftwood sailboat a try-what do you think? 

I'd love to hear what you all are working on over at your place this week!



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  1. These are just darling. I love them. I have a thing for rocks and have to drag them home:)

  2. Adorable...lucky you to find the wood and the helpers :)

  3. I love how all three came out, and love the gift idea...meaningful

  4. I love who they turned out! I wish I could still be there with ya guys, and watch "leave it to beaver"! haha, miss you guys <3

  5. Awe, so sweet! I have been wanting to make one of these since last year, with striped sails. I saw the perfect piece of drift wood at a barn a couple weeks back. You've inspired me to go back for it, or look for a piece of drift wood while on vacation next week:) I posted DIY Doily Jacket to this weeks parties:)

  6. I always try and find driftwood pieces when I visit back home in I know I need MORE to make that is toooo cute!!

  7. These are precious and rustic all rolled into a perfect beachy theme. ! I love that you had some little helpers making them too! I'd be honored if you linked these up to our All Things Thursday Blog Hop this week! Hope to see you there!

  8. So cute! I think I will look for some driftwood on my beach walk this morning.

  9. I would absolutely LOVE to make some of these! Thanks for showing us how! I live in Florida and decorate with nautical items. Wouldn't these look cute? Sweet hugs!

  10. I must try this with my grand kids!!!! What a special remembrance for the one who was baptized to have something from the same body of water.... where they rose with newness of life!!!! Thanks for sharing, found you on Creative Fridays at Jens.

    ~ Violet

  11. uuuaaooo che meraviglia,voglio farlo anche io!!!!!

  12. I love these little boats - I have been wanting to make some for some time now but, just haven't found the right piece of wood - so cute... found you through Coastal Charm....

  13. They're so pretty as decor...I hope you find lots of great driftwood for projects on your trip!

  14. What a stunning project! And this looks so easy! I think I need to get busy collecting driftwood...

    This will be featured on I Love That Junk and various other places this week. :) Thanks for linking up to Party Junk!

  15. What a neat project! It looks like a high end piece, so artistic!
    Thanks for sharing with us, we now following along.

  16. I love these and will be featuring them at the party this week.

  17. What a great idea! I'd love for you to link up to The DIY'ers!

  18. That is too cool! I love using nature too. This was a very creative idea.

  19. I LOVE this! So cute and great craft with the kids. Love your blog as well... new follower!

  20. I love this project and what a fun Mom you are to do this with your son!

  21. These are wonderful!.And that will be such a nice gift!

  22. Love them Jeanette! I could see them with little Americana flags in a July vignette. Pinning for next year. Now, where in UT am I going to find driftwood? lol! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  23. Jeanette,

    These are wonderful. I can only imagine how much your young friend is going to love seeing this and remembering her special day! Thanks for linking up at the Inspiration Gallery.


  24. Hi Jeanette,
    Your sail boats are awesome. I have been collecting draft wood this summer and plan on making similar ones. Looks like you have a very good helper.
    I love the way you styled your photos very pretty!!
    Hope we could be friends we have similar tastes in decorating.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. That's how I found you. I'll follow you through bloglovin.

  25. Hi, I love your post. I'd like to add a little. Wooden boats today are making a comeback, and they're being built by people with no special skills like me. How? Well some other neat inventions came along besides fiberglass and plastic. These were plywood and epoxy. Plywood is nothing more than thin strips of wood glued in layers. It comes in very large wide pieces that are easier to use than the traditional boards. Epoxy is a wonder material that can be mixed in your garage and made into glue, putty, or fairing material used to smooth the finished sides of your boat. Another nice thing about epoxy is you can use it like paint, brush up a piece of plywood and make it completely waterproof. So now we have large bendable pieces of wood that we can glue together and make waterproof. Good day!!


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