How To Sculpt Wood Burls with Sculpting Epoxy

If you’re sculpting faux burls similar to those found in nature and looking for a way to add some magic to your creation, take inspiration from Mother Nature herself. This article with how to video could be the fantastic inspiration to help you change the invisible to visible.

This video could be the door to open your imagination and stimulate your creative thinking.

If you haven’t spent time out in nature admiring all Mother Nature’s wonderful gifts, now is the time.  Take a walk in your back yard, nearest park, or perhaps a neighbor’s garden and look very closely at the wonders she has placed before you.

If by chance you’re not able to get outside and you have access to a computer, Google can be your friend. Searching for key words like burls, maple burls, oak burls, burls on fir trees, black walnut burls might possibly reveal impulses of Mother Natures’ powers that has transformed the outwardly appearance of different species of trees.

While at the Enchanted Forest in Salem, Oregon, the family and I had a fantastic day in this place of wonder, a fairyland. While looking at the tall majestic fir trees, I spotted a perfect place where the forest fairies might call home. It was a cluster of burls heavily draped in different shades of green luscious moss — Mother Nature’s blanket.

Sculpting Faux Burls

Assistant helping Billy sculpt faux wood burls on the Fairy House.

Assistant helping Billy sculpt faux wood burls on the Fairy House.

At that moment in time I was bestowed with a ‘vision’, I knew that faux burls adorning the fairy house would be a symbol of renewal and regrowth. Once back home, it was time to transform those elusive thoughts into a reality that could be shared with everyone who interacts with the fairy house.

Before you begin your creative project, ask yourself the following questions. Do you have your ideas and your references and material list? How about your sculpting tools? Well here is some good news; the sculpting tools are simple and easy to make. So lets get started.

Making your texture tools:

You’re going to need a corn-bristle broom, rubber band, tie wire – twist-ties like you would use to tie your garbage bags. You’ll also need something to snip the bristles from the broom and cut the tie wire. I recommend making different lengths and thickness. (Check out the companion video with this article to see how simple the texture tool is to make.) Rubber bands are very helpful to make quick work of making the texture tool.

Tip: Tie the bristles with the tie wire and then apply the same sculpting epoxy to the bound end to create a handle if you wish. The only draw back is waiting for the sculpting epoxy for a few hours to cure.

Making a faux burl:

First we need to prepare the sculpting epoxy, so its time to mix a batch. If you decide to use 307 Light Sculpting Epoxy by Poly Gem and you have never used it before I highly recommend you watch my video on how to mix 307 Light Sculpting Epoxy. You will see in the video that I’m using their thickener also. After watching that video, lets get to sculpting.

Tip: You can mix the sculpting epoxy thick or thin depending on how you’re using it on the project. If you find the batch is to thin simply mix some more thickener to the batch. It’s just that easy! I love how easy this product is to mix and spread. On a large project you will love the ease of use also!

Did you notice while watching, “Sculpting Faux Burls Video” I really don’t try to over think it. A key ingredient in sculpting is to let your mind relax and have faith that if you will allow it, your hands will start forming these manifestations of nature right before your eyes. Let the hidden powers within yourself flow. Let the elusive force of creation inside of you come out. From time to time during your creation, take a moment to step back from your work and admire what you are creating. As you see while watching ‘How to Sculpt Faux Burls’, I don’t stress myself out if the sizes or textures are radically different.

Occasionally, you may say “Oh no, the texture is too much”. This is easy to fix. Simply dip your chip brush in some water and then brush over your texture lightly. If you smooth out the texture too much, use your texture tool and sprinkle some magic again. You can also push the bristles in and gradually lift to create the fiber-look you might see in moss growing on burls. I, myself, flip the texture tool over to use the butt end to create dimples or holes in the faux burls.

Experimenting with the texture tool will give you a better understanding of the wondrous variety of textures you can create with such a simple tool.

Tip: I like to first apply the sculpting epoxy, rough it in and then let it set for lets say 15 minutes. Now it’s a matter of coming back over and adding more shape and texture. If you find it’s still a little to soft, wait another 15 to 30 minutes and come back over to work more detail in. Working time with this epoxy is between one to one and a half hours depending on the climate conditions.

Tip: Water, the spring of life Mother Nature has bestowed in nature. This is a very important ingredient to help you while working with 307 Light Sculpting Epoxy. Use water as a release agent to keep the tools and gloves from sticking to the sculpting epoxy. Sprinkle water on your working board before setting your batch of sculpting epoxy on it.

Tip: Cover your batch of sculpting epoxy with a very damp cloth to slow down the curing process of the epoxy.

Tip: Spreading out the sculpting epoxy on the board will also help to slow down curing process. If the batch is left in a large ball or mass it will generate heat from the chemical process, which will speed up the curing process and gives you less “working time.”

The faux burls help to give the illusion of the limbs flowing from the sides of the fairy house to gracefully blend underneath the pedals of the roof. How might you create such an illusion with burls on your enchanted work of art?

Let your imagination and creativity flow. Thank you for being here, taking the time out of your life and spending it here with me. It is my sincere hope that this article and video has been a great benefit to you.

Please come back and visit again for previous and future articles and videos,

Best Regards,

Author: Billy Bears, aka The Tinker