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.
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