There’s a folk art that was especially popular in the New England states called “Lath Art.” Basically, these folk artists would take strips of lath from lath and plaster walls and make pictures out of them. They sometimes will also recycle old lobster traps for the same purpose. Typically, the pictures were rural or nautical themed. However, I thought it wold be fun to use this old art form to make Captain America’s shield and Iron Man’s mask in honor of the recent release of Captain America: Civil War (Which was awesome, BTW).
You can buy strips of lath at the home center, but I chose to make mine. I cut 1/4″ strips from 2×4. I left the saw marks in the wood and used my rotary tool to rough up the edges of the lath strips so they weren’t so crisp. I glued the lath strips onto some craft paper, leaving a small gap between the strips.
While the lath panels dried, I determined the direction the strips would run for each of the parts. You can use the direction of the lath to indicate detail, dimension, and movement. Once satisfied, I cut the pattern into parts and laid them on my panels.
I cut each of the parts out on the scroll saw. Again, I used my rotary tool to rough up the freshly cut edges. I really want these pieces to look rough and worn. I found it easier to add color to each of the pieces before I assembled the final picture. For the silver areas on the shield, I applied silver leaf. The gold areas on the mask I applied gold leaf. All of the other areas, I used standard craft paint.
Once the paints dried, I assembled the picture like a jigsaw puzzle and glued them into place onto 1/4″ backer board. I trimmed away the excess backer board with the bandsaw. Then I painted the edges and the backer to match the piece.
Captain America is from the 1940’s. I wanted the lath art to look like they’ve been around for the last 70+ years. So I took some sandpaper and starting sanding away some of the paint. The high points tend to get the most wear, so that’s where I remove the most paint. To add some dirt and grime, I used some medium colored stain. I liberally brushed on the stain, making sure I fill in all of the crevices. Then I used a rag to wipe away as much stain as I could. This toned down the bright paint, and filled in the recesses with dark grime. Once that dried, I applied a layer of paste wax to the surface, then buffed it out. This gave a nice soft feel, and added a soft luster.
I built this project over several weeks LIVE from my shop on my channel over at Twitch. I stream every Sunday at 1pm Pacific time. If you get a moment, stop in and say hi. It’s a lot of fun hanging out and doing a little nerdy woodworking.
Here is a fun project. A buddy of mine really likes the Fallout game. So I thought I’d make a Fallout themed bottle opener with cap catcher. I decided I’d do a Vault Boy image on the bottle opener and distress it so it looks like it made it through the apocalypse.
I used a standard cedar fence board for my material. I cut it to 12” long and dog-eared the top. I sanded down some of the rough surface, leaving behind a little bit of the rough sawn lumber. I wanted it to still have that weathered/textured look. I put it on my CNC and carved out the Vault Boy logo. Since I was making these live on my stream, someone suggested I do a Nuka Cola logo as well, which I thought was a brilliant idea. So I put that into my CNC and carved a few of those out as well.
I drilled a hole in the back of the board to recess a rare earth magnet. It won’t be seen from the front, but the magnet is strong enough to catch the falling bottle cap through the wood and stick it to the board. Very cool! I plugged the hole with some cedar plugs I made with the CNC.
I painted the surface with craft paints. Then with my sander, I sanded away a bit. This left a nice weathered paint look. For Vault Boy, I laid down a layer of white paint as a base. Once dry, I followed up with the colors. Once all of that was dry, I used some sandpaper to scuff up the nicely painted surface to age it up a bit. The Nuka Cola logos, I painted the recesses.
I spread a walnut stain over the entire surface and wiped away anything that didn’t soak in. This really darkened the craft paint and aged the wood 30 years. I used an old brush to pool in the stain into the recesses of Vault Boy, which made the awesome outline come to life.
I let the stain dry for a few days, then I came back over it with a furniture wax. It gave it a nice satin sheen and made the wood nice to the touch. Then I screwed in the bottle opener hardware and I was done!
In the end, I made 2 Vault Boy and 3 Nuka Cola bottle openers. I really liked the way they turned out and my buddy was thrilled.
I made these on my Live Stream. Every Sunday at 1pm, PST, I stream live from my shop. Stop in and check it out and hang out with me. Recordings of my live stream are available for 2 weeks if you missed the show.
I started live streaming from my workshop on Twitch in their creative channel. Twitch is a video game live streaming service where like-minded folks gather to chat and watch each other play games. Not too long ago, they opened up a creative channel where Twitch members can show the stuff they make. They do all […]
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