Here at Cheap Joe’s, we love using products in unconventional ways–like spray painting area rugs or making stamps out of erasers–so it’s no wonder that I looked at our stock of dowels rods and thought, “I can totally use those.”
For this week’s project, I emulated something I came across on Pinterest (hey, follow the Cheap Joe’s Pinterest page if you don’t already!) where they used buttons to create this awesome tree:
I knew that I could slice up my dowels and create a similar effect–and on a way smaller budget!
To start, I stained my Joe’s Prime Really Good Cradled Painting Panel with coffee because I wanted to keep the look of the wood grain, but I didn’t want it quite as bright as it is when it’s raw.
After several layers of application and little-to-no change in tone, I eventually just poured a huge puddle onto it and let it soak it all up. Now it smells pretty great, too!
Next, I took a handful of Joe’s Prime Really Good Lightfast Acrylic colors and painted the ends of my dowels with the colors I wanted represented in my tree.
Painting the sides of the dowels saved a LOT of time later on, and also helped me remember which sizes were going to be which color!
While those were drying, I drew and cut out my tree silhouette on a heavy sheet of paper that would be easy to eventually trace around.
Once they were dry, I used a razor saw to cut slivers of my smaller dowels.
This part was easily the most time-consuming, but it was kind of soothing making repetitive motions. I was in a very zen place by the end of it…
If you don’t want to wait as long, or if you don’t find manual labor as relaxing as I do, and if you have one available, I’d recommend just using a table saw.
Tip: if you end up cutting any imperfect circles, don’t toss them out! They’ll come in handy later!
With a pile of wood slices ready, I started painting the tops of each of them with their respective colors.
Again, painting the sides first saved me a TON of time on this step because I would have otherwise had to wait 2 drying times and get even more paint all over myself than I already did–not that that’s a bad thing
I also went with a single thin coat because I wanted the natural wood grain to show through on my final piece. After all, I could have just used plastic circles and saved time. But the consistency of the look of wood grain throughout was very important to me.
As those dried, I cut out some little birds in one of the sheets of paper I marbled with spray paint in a past post. Yep, all three birds came from ONE sheet of paper!
I positioned them where I wanted them in my tree, and then traced around them so that I’d know where I didn’t need to put dowels.
I started assembling my tree with the largest dowels first, since they would be the hardest to find space for. Then I glued each of them down with Rubber Cement because of its elasticity and ability to re-position my dowels if need be.
Then I began to fill in the spaces with my smaller-sized dowels.
Remember when I said not to toss your organic-shaped dowels? Here’s why! They fit snugly into little nooks and crannies where a perfect circle wouldn’t!
Once I had glued everything down, I noticed a glaring shininess coming from the edges and tops of some of my dowels–the Rubber Cement! Curse my sloppy hands!
Thankfully, I remembered that if Rubber Cement doesn’t have a second surface to bond with, it’s super easy to remove!
All I had to do was take one of my blending stomps and rub it away!
With everything cleaned up, I finally had this:
Sure, it’s probably a little morbid that I made a tree with the remnants of its dead brethren, but it’s also very pretty! I can’t wait to hang this up and impress all of my friends with how perfectly and effortlessly I fit a million little dowel slices together.
What have you guys done with dowel rods? Comment below!