Watercolour + V-Carving

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Project by tyskkvinna posted 03-27-2010 04:48 PM 4051 views 5 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first posting here at LJ, so I hope I’m doing this right…

The main thing that I’ve been doing with wood (lately) has been a hybrid of wood carving and watercolour painting.

I start out by covering the piece of (otherwise scrap) wood with something to seal it – I use whatever random bits I have left in a rattlecan. This both seals the wood, so that I don’t get watercolour all over the top part later, and lets me focus on the design rather than the grain of the wood. I like them to work together, but not too much.

Carve out the pattern. I do this with CNC – I have a mill and a sheet router. Depends on what I’m doing, which I will use. The last pic is an example of what it looks like when I’m doing that. People who come into the shop assume I’m intending on keeping the top coat of paint and usually remark things to me along the lines of “You just spray painted oak?!!”

Then I blow everything out to make sure there’s no dust and hit it with my watercolours. I mix the colour with gum arabic, which helps the spreading of pigment and ensures it doesn’t go laterally. I then let it get super dry – usually overnight. It will be dry to the touch within 10 minutes, but I’ve learned that if I generate fine sawdust right after that it mucks up the paint pretty good.

Depending on the wood, the pattern, my mood, etc., sometimes I have the v-carve go 1/32” deeper than I really want so it’s easy to push through the planer and get rid of that rattle-coat. Other times the wood isn’t suited for that (I use a lot of salvaged wood with natural edges, so I will try to keep certain features intact) so I cut it closer to actual depth, or straight up actual depth, and then sand it by hand or with a bench sander. (usually both)

Then everything gets sealed – I use a satin poly for the first couple of coats so that it doesn’t alter the colour too much (watercolour is very susceptible to colour change). Then it gets a glossy, semi-gloss or satin finish coat depending on the piece.

I use a simple keyhole router bit on the back so that it hangs flush with the wall.

The designs are a mixed bag – some are open-source images I’ve found online, some I’ve made myself, some are a combination thereof.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

17 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3116 days

#1 posted 03-27-2010 05:47 PM

niice work
keep up the good work
and welcome to LumberJock
enjoy and have fun but be aware
it´s addictive believe me


View DonDA's profile


168 posts in 3232 days

#2 posted 03-27-2010 07:47 PM

Welcome, and what a great use of small pieces of lumber. I like it a lot.

-- Don, Saginaw Mi

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3326 days

#3 posted 03-27-2010 11:26 PM

Interesting stuff…

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3743 days

#4 posted 03-28-2010 12:00 AM

That looks like fun. What kind of CNC and Software do you use? Have you seen SPalms?
He also wrote a little program that generates G-code for Spirograph type designs quickly and easily which I think you would have some fun with. (his rosette at the bottom of his project post for example). Welcome to LJ!

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2987 days

#5 posted 03-28-2010 12:05 AM

I use a Haas TM-1 and a Haas SR-100 for the CNC and on the software side a combination VisualMill and V-Carve Pro. :)

That looks neat, I’ll have to play with it!!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3743 days

#6 posted 03-28-2010 12:10 AM

Whoah, those are serious. What are they used for when you are not carving art pieces? That is sweet. I am so jealous.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2987 days

#7 posted 03-28-2010 12:13 AM

We keep them in our machine shop for people who want to learn about them, use them for their own projects, etc. (I work at an open-source sci-tech centre)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3743 days

#8 posted 03-28-2010 12:27 AM

Dang, how would you feel about re-locating to my neighborhood?

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18272 posts in 3677 days

#9 posted 03-28-2010 01:13 AM

Lookin good from here! welcome to LJ.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View CSlabon's profile


301 posts in 3278 days

#10 posted 03-28-2010 07:22 AM

Neat ideas.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3875 days

#11 posted 03-28-2010 06:06 PM

I really like it.

-- Happy woodworking!

View wing79's profile


33 posts in 3455 days

#12 posted 03-29-2010 03:29 AM



View DeadAppleJay's profile


9 posts in 2984 days

#13 posted 03-30-2010 07:19 AM

I REALLY enjoy the colors. I think they came out great. I don’t really know anything about watercolours. What do you use?

-- Jay

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2987 days

#14 posted 04-01-2010 12:07 AM

Thank you!

I use Winsor & Newton pigments. Long before I discovered woodworking, I was trained formally in the art of watercolours. (for the purposes of traditional calligraphy, actually) I tried out some of the cheap paints as testing when I started this but the artist-grade paint really works the best. Especially if I suspend it in Ox Gall. It runs really smooth and lets the grain shine through while still tinting it beautifully.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3894 days

#15 posted 04-01-2010 12:17 AM

I like those coloured one, top right.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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