Have yourself a crafty little Christmas

With Rhiannon Thomas

Rhiannon Thomas is a coastal artist who creates vibrant and quirky pieces that incorporate all the aspects she loves about living next to the sea. When Rhiannon isn’t covered in paint or setting up exhibitions in galleries across Wales, she can be found playing in rock pools with the family and getting mucky on adventures with her dog. Rhiannon joins TheBAY this month with instructions to make a simple, yet effective door hanging.

It’s that time of year again. The nights are dark and the fires have been lit (unless like me you rely on good old fashioned central heating). While the temptation is to run to the nearest shop or to log online in search for this year’s decorations, why not take a minute to consider making your own? *Gasp* ‘Make my own?!’ Yes, that’s right. There is nothing quite like getting the family around the table to create some traditional decorations for the home. Not only will it save you money, but it’ll give you a unique item that is completely personal and beautiful.

Bay TemplateChristmas Tree Driftwood Door Hanging

As is perhaps typical of me, I like to steer away from the ‘regular’ and the ‘usual’, often opting for interesting and peculiar versions of our traditional decorations. Every year, I make and hang a wreath on my front door and crafty as it is, I’m a huge supporter of trying something new. So, this Christmas I’m going to be making a painted driftwood plaque and giving you a simple step by step guide on how to achieve your own. Go on! Dare to be different!

What you’ll need:

An old piece of driftwood. Any shape, any size – the gnarlier, the better!

Some acrylic paints (navy, white and dark green for this piece)

2 paintbrushes. A flat head paintbrush and a thin pointed one

Some string or ribbon

A drill (to make the holes for the string).

A pencil

PVA glue (optional)

Glitter – any colour but silver works best (optional)

Getting started

Once you have your wood, make sure to pop it on the radiator overnight to dry it out before you start painting.


  1. Mark out two holes, roughly an inch or two from the top, which you’ll use as guides to drill through. If you haven’t got a drill to hand, or like me you’re banned from using your husband’s power tools, you can always hammer a nail through the wood and take it out (leaving the hole) or do the same with a screw. You can make the plaque without the holes to lean in a corner.
  1. Get your navy paint and daub it onto the driftwood. Start at one end and work your way to the other BUT, be sure not to paint it to the edges.

Leaving a little wood around the outside gives it a beautiful framed effect. Once that’s done, leave it to dry. If you’re using acrylics, it won’t take long before you can paint over it. Depending on the wood, you may have to do a few layers of paint to get a good coverage.

  1. Using your trusty pencil, mark out a rough triangle where your tree will be.
  1. Using your green paint and a flat head paintbrush, start at the top and splodge a little paint where the highest most point of the tree will be. Underneath it, splodge on two more daubs of paint next to each other and continue down following the traditional pine tree shape. Your brush should be angled out and down towards the base of the tree, so you’ll have that lovely bow effect with the branches. You’re just keeping the brush at the same angle and layering up the foliage. This process isn’t neat, nor is it a fine art so don’t panic over every stroke.
  1. Drying time. Wash your brush.
  1. Take your dark green paint and splodge a little onto a plate (don’t worry, it’s only acrylic and it’ll come off with warm water) and add a touch of white. Mix it until you have a lovely shade of green that’s noticeably lighter than the one you were previously painting with.
  1. Now for the highlights. Picking out SOME of the branches, daub a little of the light green throughout the tree. Follow the same lines as the branches you already have painted and keep it to the same angle. Trust your instincts here. If you feel an area needs a bit of highlighting, then go for it.
  1. Once the tree is dry and your brush is clean (and I mean CLEAN for this part), get out your snowy white paint. Using exactly the same method as before, dip your brush into the white and daub on some snow. Now think about this part because it requires a little more realism. Imagine where the snow would fall. It’s not going to be close to the centre and it’ll be in beautiful thick dollops (depending on the amount of snow fall you decide upon) on the tops of most of the branches. Your branches should be angled out and down, so follow the same lines.

Don’t forget that our tree is a 3D object so you’re going to want to add a little in the front. In an upside down ‘V’ shape, dab a little white paint in to give the effect of snow covered branches that are facing you.

  1. Now your snow scene is really coming together! You have a fabulous little fir and all that’s left to do is add some snowfall and a sweet quote at the top.
  1. At the top of the wood, mark out with your pencil your favourite Christmas quote. ‘Let it snow’, ‘Happy Holiday’, ‘Christmas Wishes’ etc so on so forth. You could even have a welcome message on it if you intend hanging it on the front door. Once that’s done, get your fine brush out and with the white paint, go over the message. Take your time on this so that your final piece looks nice and neat.
  1. What is your festive scene missing? Snowfall of course! Using the same fine brush, put a few blobs of snow here and there. Don’t plan this part out, let it run freely from your imagination. Leave it to dry
  1. You’re almost finished. If like me, you’ll look for any excuse to use glitter, now is your chance. You can either leave your plaque as it is for a beautiful festive hanging, or you can take your clean fine brush and dip it into some PVA glue and dab a little over the top of your snowflakes. Don’t worry, this stuff dries clear. Sprinkle your gorgeous glitter over the snowfall and leave to dry for 5 minutes. At this point, the glue won’t be completely dry, but will have stuck your glitter to it. Pick your plaque up and turn it to the side and gently tap it on the table to remove the excess sparkle. Every happy Christmas tree must have glitter so following on from your previous glittery daubings, apply some PVA glue to the snowfall on your tree and sprinkle some on. Once again, wait a few minutes then tap off the excess.
  1. You’ll need to leave this dry for a while. Check the drying time on the back of the bottle as every glue is different.
  1. Once your plaque is dry and looking fabulous, you can take your string and thread it through the holes. Do this from front to back and knot the ends so they don’t come through the holes.

VOILA! One beautiful, inexpensive and unique festive hanging for your home!

Merry Christmas!

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