Sounds like the makings of a great adventure novel. But this adventure is the real life adventure of my life. Ok, you got me, maybe there was no pirate ship plank, but it does involve a small piece of driftwood. Which TOTALLY could have been a pirate ship plank. But there was absolutely a stormy seascape and we absolutely scored some hidden treasure.
How this story ends... yes, at the beginning: (Stay with me!)
Last month was my husbands birthday. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time (his birthday falls between Thanksgiving, one of our children's birthday and Christmas). I wanted to make him something meaningful. When an idea stuck me! Cue lightbulb glowing over my head. I got really excited and made his gift several weeks in advance. Then of course I forgot it in my office and wasn’t able to give it to him until several days after his birthday - so much for planning ahead! But such is the way my life works sometimes.
Once upon a time in a land far far away there lived a
beautiful princess who frequently vacationed to the sea... Just kidding. But my husband and I do try to make a trip to the Oregon coast once or twice a year, usually to Gold Beach. It's about a three hour drive and it is our favorite getaway location. It's where we went for our very first trip away together and i
t’s become a sentimental destination where we go to reset. Around this time last year was no exception. In fact
we had the most incredible time we’ve ever had. We explored new places. We ate some of the most decadent chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Stopped at this little glass shop we’ve driven by for years and always wanted to check out but never made the time. Side note - I’m totally obsessed with blown glass art. I’ve been able to try my hand at glass blowing once and was completely hooked. I made a little heart paper weight, it's adorable. But I digress.
On that trip, we really connected in a way we hadn’t in a long time. One of the afternoons while walking hand in hand along the beach I found a few pieces of beautiful driftwood. I also found HIDDEN TREASURE! The visitor center in Gold Beach hides glass floats along the beach. As I mentioned I LOVE glass art, so a glass float from the coast is just icing on the cake. We have searched every trip and never found one before. BUT THIS WAS MY LUCKY
TRIP because I found a beautiful blue glass float hidden among the sage. Anyways, back to my pirate ship plank...uh, errrr.. driftwood. I had the intention of making something different than the wood projects I normally make. I wanted something... unique and personal. I just needed the right inspiration. At the end our week, we loaded our treasures: my driftwood, glass float and memories into our truck headed home. The driftwood later got set on my desk and sat there.... and sat there... and sat there. Waiting for me to really exercise my creativity but life and kids and running a business took precedence.
Fast forward nearly a year. There I am sitting at my desk, wanting to make something special for my husband for his birthday. When my pirate ship plank called to me again.
I started by taking a rag and cleaning the sand off my piece of driftwood. A smile spread across my face as I remembered that walk on the beach. Next I designed my artwork. I will admit that I am nerd for small details. I wanted the sign to point directly to “our beach” where we’ve had so many good memories, and close to where we found the glass float and the piece of driftwood I was using. It a subtle reminder to us that when life gets hard again, here is exactly where we need to go. I thought about the arrow carefully when designing my artwork. I knew approximately where in the house we would display this, therefore I made sure that when I placed the sign, the arrow was pointing in the correct direction to our beach from that spot in our house. I also did some internet research and got the latitude and longitude for our beach. I contemplated putting how many miles away that beach is from our front door, but this isn’t our forever home and I was worried about overcrowding artwork so I decided to leave that out.
Using our Cricut Maker, I then cut the artwork out on some excess vinyl I had. I did reverse weeding (the process of taking the words or artwork out and leaving the access so that you create a stencil). There is specific stencil vinyl you can buy and I’ve tried it. But I’ve found a lot of the times regular vinyl works well enough. The lines may not be as clean or sharp, but if you are going for a more rustic look, this works just fine, just do not burnish the vinyl down as thoroughly as you would normally.
Next, I laid the compass rose I cut out, on my driftwood, halfway off so that only part of the design would show. I painted a deep aqua blue over the top of my “stencil”... my living room colors are teal and a deep rich brown, so I thought that would coordinate well. While the paint was still wet I removed the vinyl. I let the paint dry completely! This is important, because if you are laying colors like I did and your paint is still slightly wet, it will peel off or smear. Once dry, I placed my second template, painted the lettering and arrow white for a nice contrast to the blue and dark wood. I love the way it pops off the driftwood. Again, I pulled the vinyl off while the paint was wet, then let it dry completely.
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you know
we’ve had a really rough couple of years and were actually separated a couple of times. So it's been a long stormy road for us. But we haven't given up yet. Now, will all men appreciate a gift like the one I made for my husband? Probably not, and I know that respect I am lucky. But this is more than just a random piece of wood I casually slapped some paint on. This was a piece of wood he and I found together, walking hand in hand, in one of our favorite spots in the world. With the coordinates of our favorite beach and an arrow pointing us back in case we loose our way again.