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We Tried It Wednesday. HomeTalk Birch Tree Thrift Store Hack

*This post is courtesy of our sister blog The Not So Crafty Blog. If your interested in craft struggles & reality checks, head on over and take a peek!

This craft caught my eye from HomeTalk – link to the original post can be found here. The live demo flashed across my Facebook news feed and instantly mesmerized me, as the gold leaf glimmered in the camera lights I was a goner. Yep, I have to do this. This gal made it look so easy and her voice assured me that the finished product would be a classy, modern, chic piece of art that I could hang with pride in my home. I dunno, maybe it was her accent that gave me confidence. Maybe it the way she moved through the demo making the occasional endearing fumble that convinced me we were cut from the same cloth. Either way, I was checking Amazon about 10 minutes into the live demo to see if I could order all the stuff I needed to make the next Warhol and the biggest mess my kitchen had seen since my husband last brewed his own beer.

Here is a look at the live demo –

Looks cool right? I think so. Now for the full disclosure on items purchased and used for my attempt. I actually had a blank canvas from a previous delusion of creating my own artwork for the house so that was hiding in my closet. Original price was about $12, but for this craft project I am saying $0 since I had the supply already. Next, up brushes. I didn’t invest any money into buying high-end looking makeup brushes like she had since I recently painted our house and a variety of brushes were amassed – just the regular wall kind. Zero dollars again for cost. I’m doing so well with money so far! Yay!

Now for the paint. I have a zillion samples lying around the house from said painting spree so I spent no money there either, regular latex paint, not acrylic like she suggested – I may regret that decision later. I also had some metallic gold stuff I bought for this crazy idea I had for stencils, (more on that later), so again no money out-of-pocket. She used napkins with a birch print – now my napkins are basically paper towels and the Wal-Mart flower print design was less than desirable for this experiment so I splurged and bought some from Amazon, link to exact ones used here. I also had to purchase the metallic gold leaf and the adhesive since I had yet to add it to my supply collection – those can be found here and here.

She also used cling film, (Saran Wrap for USA folks), and decoupage gel. I don’t have decoupage gel. I don’t plan to order any either. As for the mineral texturizing powder, (gosh that sounds so deliciously professional and crafty!), I wasn’t sold. It was a really awesome name for something that resembles chalk dust but the instant she said she once used sawdust to get the same effect…forget it.

So far I am up to $38 out-of-pocket, but if you bought all the materials she had including brushes, I imagine you could be plunking down well over $75. For timeline, average about 2 days. This is not a fast project. You literally have to watch paint dry. If you think this will be done in an afternoon, you’re dreaming. I guess you could use a hair dryer to speed up the process if you’re really impatient.

First step was to paint the canvas – 

Notice I poured it on, not because I am experienced or brave, but because my brush was too wide for the jar. I vote skip this step unless you want your background to be a deeper color than cream. I couldn’t tell a difference in the before and after.

Next step – adding globs of paint to get that raised look. The demonstrator used acrylic paint, but I got creative and used some silicone caulking. It’s weather proof so that’s a bonus.img_2808

So far I feel good about this. It is not exact, but it is darn close. I went back over the clear silicone with my original cream paint just for kicks & found out silicone does not paint that well but it did deepen the coloring of the gel. You can see the difference in the first pic. For the texturizing step, I will show you some alternatives I had on hand –


I actually tried the spackle, putty and wood filler on a paper plate that I set in the sun to dry along with the canvas. Plumber’s putty was a no, spackle and wood filler did great! I used both. They dried perfectly and had the same look as the stuff she used. Well, almost. I did paint over them with some leftover paint. If you’re really interested it was Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore. 

Next I added the gold leaf, this was not as hard as I imagined it to be. It was actually pretty straightforward and the only aggravating thing was forgetting where I put the adhesive once it was ready since it goes clear. The final step was adding the napkins. I just kept using the gold leaf adhesive and it worked fine. img_2837

It was actually pretty neat when I laid the napkin over the hardened wood filler, it made the pattern look like actual tree trunks. I did make one mistake, I forgot that she cut the individual tree prints in the napkins and separated them. I laid the whole napkin out and realized it after a few minutes. Not to worry though, easy save was to grab an exacto knife and lift the paper off. img_2838

Here is the finished product. Not quite as impressive as hers, but I think it had to do with the size of the canvas I used or maybe that was wishful thinking…img_2841

Final take on this project – it was cool to do. Most of the steps were easy enough to follow and can be done with alternative products to achieve a similar look. The finished product looked like something I would hang in my house and I did actually. So if this appeals to you, I give it a thumbs up to go ahead and try!