Creating Art Out of Leftover Plywood

Meet “Octy,” the nine-legged octopus.


He’s hanging in our newly updated basement family room. We recently turned the room from an unused playroom filled with broken toys and games to a family/TV room, which will get more use now that the kids are a little older.

I’ll write more about the details of our makeover in a future post, so stay tuned, but today, I’m just going to focus on this fun little art project I did as part of our makeover. The new family room is pretty large, so there was a lot of blank wall space to fill. So I went looking for some inexpensive ideas for large-scale art online. I found this great tutorial on the blog Tidbits.

I loved the combination of white and wood. It looked easy enough to replicate and as luck would have it, we had a piece of plywood in our basement that was the perfect size for the project.

Blogger’s note: I apologize, I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I will do my best to describe what I did. Hopefully you can visualize.

First, I taped off randomly-spaced stripes on my plywood.

From there I was supposed to use different color stains on each stripe. But… I didn’t read the directions carefully enough, so instead of using different shades of stain to stripe the plywood—I used one shade of stain and three kinds of paint, brown, red and white. Whoops. I ended up having to dry brush and sand it to get the look of weathered wood that I was after. Not ideal, but it did actually looked like an old, weathered piece of barn board when it was finished. You can see the different wood tones in this shot.


From there I got started on the image.

I wanted some sort of a sea creature to go along with our home’s coastal vibe, so I had my 7-year-old daughter, (who loves to draw and insists on helping me with my DIY projects) sketch out an octopus for me. I showed her some examples that I liked online to get her started. When she was done I took her drawing and copied it onto a large sheet of contact paper.

I applied the contact paper to the wood, cut around the outline of the octopus shape with a razor blade. Then I peeled off the outside, leaving just the octopus shape on the board.  Then, I painted the exposed area with a coat of white paint. (I use Benjamin Moore Linen White in a 50% formulation for all my trim and furniture, so I used that here as well.)

Once two coats of the white were dry, I peeled of the contact paper and evened out the edges of my octopus (some paint had leaked under) with a little sandpaper. I also used the sandpaper to scuff up the white surface a little as well for some added character.

I still need to add a frame and some satin polyurethane to keep it from chipping, but… I’m impatient, so it’s already hanging up in the family room until I muster the energy.

Update: I created a new striped frame for Octy. Check it out here


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