It’s not very often that I start a project and leave it unfinished. In fact, there may be only three or four uncompleted projects that haunt me (and my garage) and maybe a few more that I’ve totally given up on. Today’s project is one of them. It was more than two years ago when I first saw this Bird and Branch Triptych Panels in a Pottery Barn catalogue, and it was love at first sight. I immediately bought plain wood boards from the hardware store, prepped them and gathered the needed materials. But soon, other priorities took over ~ furniture remakes were at the top of my list back then ~ and I never got to finish them. Another reason I wasn’t too keen on getting them done was that most of the walls in the San Francisco home were already covered with art (or with walls of windows). So I stored the unfinished panels in the garage and totally forgot about them until they popped out last June, during our move. I was tempted to throw them away, but I decided not to – the panels could be used in another way. I’m now glad I kept them because the new house in Houston has MANY empty walls and more art is needed in almost every room; the dining room has two empty walls, the wall gallery in the living room is nowhere near finished and the master bedroom and hallway walls are also completely bare. To make things worse, I used some of my most beautiful art pieces to decorate the hallway half bath ~ this house is in real need of art! Even so, it didn’t occur to me that I could use the unfinished panels until a Pottery Barn catalogue arrived trough the mail the other day featuring that same triptych art panels that I loved so much, years ago. That was all I needed to dig out the old panels and finish them up.
You, too, can make your own Chinoiserie wooden panels – even if you’re not talented enough to draw a single flower petal! These panels are made using the decoupage method and the only skill you will need is to apply glue on paper. That easy! Find a pattern that you like, whether it’s a wallpaper, scrapbooking paper, or any other craft paper, even matte gift wrapping paper can work, cut out the desired motifs from the paper and glue them onto the panels. I found a fabric with birds, branches and flowers and I photocopied it (a tutorial I found in the Country Living magazine that I have used before here).
So far, whoever has seen my new Chinoiserie art panels seriously believed that it was true art! Even with a close up, you can barely see that it is actually made out of paper cut-outs glued on wood.
Here is how I made them. I used:
I got my branch, bird, flower and leaf motifs out of a piece of fabric that I photocopied.
By adjusting the color level on the photocopy machine, I got lighter print-outs to use for the pink flowers, and darker ones to use for the birds and the leaves.
Then, I simply cut out some of the shapes – just the ones I liked best – and glued them directly on the wooden boards. Some leaves and flowers overlap to create the foliage, but sometimes they also hide a detail that wasn’t perfect.
Since the wooden boards were prepped months ago, I don’t have photos to show you the distressing process, but I stained them and then applied brush strokes of blue and green paint, here and there.
I created the dents into the wood by knocking a chisel with a hammer directly onto the wood board.
I enlarged the flower on the copy machine to make it bigger and then cut it in two, one piece for each panel, to show continuity of the art. I also enlarged the branches. The blue flowers are actually three sets of butterfly wings that I glued together, and the blue leaves are cut in an oval shape from the birds’ plumage.
I used sawtooth pictures hangers, one on the back of each panel.
Although my inspiration was made of three wooden panels, I thought that for my space, two panels were just enough.
It’s amazing how my fake painting blends with my mother’s really beautiful art.
If you’re no Chinoiserie fan (which I am to the max), you can use other themes to make your own wooden art panels! Have fun!