Preserving driftwood-a beginners guide
But here we are and as promised I'm going to be talking about treating and preserving driftwood. Why do I write a blog you may ask ? Well, its one way of sharing my journey with you and hopefully providing some useful information along the way. If you missed last months blog Driftwood Diaries we were discussing the origins of driftwood and my never-ending excitement at the very sight or mention of it.
I've started to incorporate more driftwood into my designs, I find it works quite well for little benches and charming sea glass cottage roofs and chimneys. Its very important that it is able to stand the test of time, particularly as most of my designs are purchased as gifts for family and loved ones. I try not to sand or shorten pieces if I can help it and will absolutely go and hunt for that perfect piece, regardless of the weather if need be. Luckily I have acquired a very nice collection to delve into and the beach is literally a few minutes walking distance away.
Now if you're like me and consider driftwood to be a delightful invitation from mother nature, you might also like to learn how to preserve its natural beauty for many years to come. Whereas I do not profess to be an expert, I have picked up a few tips over the years which I am happy to share with you here.
After a quick inspection for any signs of life I will usually study the driftwood and carefully consider whether I will use it, if not it gets put back on the beach where I found it. Mostly, once home I will set to work immediately with a medium wire brush and remove any obvious debris, sand and salt. For very small pieces a quick rinse under the tap will usually suffice. This is an important step in the process as driftwood will have salt residue both inside and out; which if left could accelerate decay.
The next step involves soaking the driftwood in warm soapy water for several minutes before rinsing again. You will find driftwood to be quite porous in places, by soaking in warm water you are simply ensuring that any remaining stubborn debris is cleansed away. Again give the driftwood a good rinse before soaking in a gentle disinfectant solution. I use approximately 1 part bleach to 10 parts water which roughly translates to a couple of capfuls of bleach to half a standard bucket of water. For very small pieces I use a single capful of bleach. I usually soak larger pieces overnight and smaller pieces for 2-3 hours. A smaller piece of driftwood for me is anything from 1 to 8 cm's in length.
If you wish to lighten the driftwood which personally I do not, then just repeat the process over again. Alternatively you could use baking soda or plain old water, leaving the driftwood soaking for about a week.
The final part of the process is rinsing, rinsing and yes more rinsing, before leaving to dry either outside in the fresh air or in a dry room free from moisture. Do ensure your driftwood is completely dry before storing. I usually leave mine drying on kitchen paper for around 7 days to be on the safe side.
If you wish to preserve your beautifully processed driftwood further, you may wish to consider using a mineral oil, however this may cause some darkening.
Whatever you do, stand back and admire your beautifully conserved driftwood...with a glass of wine of course, after all it is nearly Christmas!
Finally I would like to say a big thank you to all my customers and wish you a very happy and peaceful New Year x.