Since I am so happy with these recently made swap items, I thought I would share some pictures of them before I send them away next week.
These items are for a fairy tale swap. I thought and thought about what story to represent when making my items, and finally decided to make a fairy tale castle complete with a prince and princess and of course, a mother and baby dragon. I hope these can serve as props for numerous stories and other imaginings.
You can make a castle like this too! Here's how I made mine.
My tree blocks are made of birch wood. My neighbor had the bad luck of losing the top half of his birch tree, a few weeks ago. But his loss was my gain as he kindly gave me the branches! Thanks, Ted! My DH kindly cut the branch into small and medium sized slices, and I put them on a wire shelf in a sunny window for about 5 weeks, turning them over once a day.
I removed most of the bark from each slice using a belt sander, and then hand sanded each block. This took a while, but it was worth it!
I worked for about half an hour stacking the blocks this way and that, deciding how to make them look sort of castle-ish. I chose 10 blocks of varying sizes. I thought they could all be stacked together as one tall tower or stacked in pieces like more of a village.
Then I pondered the problem of how to paint them without entirely covering the wood grain. I finally decided to make the biggest block the base with large wooden doors with lion door handles. I also added some greenery "growing along the castle walls." Then I chose a few other blocks to have minor details. Two have windows and some stones with moss. One has a coat of arms (with a tree - to represent a little bit of me), and one has just stones and moss. The other blocks just have a hint of greenery to represent the covered walls, and to show they are part of the set.
I wood burned the designs into each block, and then painted them all with non toxic watercolors.
I used steel wool to smooth out the blocks one more time, sealed them with a natural beeswax polish, and added the fairy tale characters to the scene. Magical!
And my swap partner played happily ever after.