Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Beach memories

By Justin Newcombe

A beach blackboard for the holiday batch. Photo / Dean Purcell
A beach blackboard for the holiday batch. Photo / Dean Purcell

Many times I've been on a beach holiday and the weather has not played its part for the swimming and surfing and fishing we've had in mind. A certain amount of stoicism is required for you and your brood to engage in these successfully in bad weather and things can get a little harder with younger children. To get out of the house and do something to keep the kids occupied and not spend an unholy fortune (that's the movies out) you could go for a walk in the rain, filling in time while the tide is out or just working off that extra sausage you shouldn't have had at dinner time. This can be an opportunity to collect a whole lot of interesting things that have had the sea treatment. Pieces of timber, sticks and glass take on unique qualities once they've be through the ocean's wash cycle.

Some beaches yield massive amounts of really cool stuff as well as plenty of rubbish. Much of the rubbish can be bagged and binned - and that is satisfying on its own. Much of it, like old ropes and buoys, can be worked into something more artistic and large-scale.

River mouths offer choice pickings, especially if you're looking for weathered wood. Trees and branches and even an old farm fence or two will give the budding sculptor or furniture maker something interesting to play with.

For this project I decided to spend the morning at one of Auckland's numerous beaches. Although the pickings were slim compared to some of the remote locations on New Zealand's coastline, I found plenty to keep me interested (and pleasingly a lot less rubbish than I'd anticipated).

At first I wasn't sure what I was looking for so I collected what I thought might be useful. It didn't take long to come up with the idea of a pretty simple framed blackboard. This gave my search new vigour as I hunted out the best pieces I could find for what I had in mind.

In the end, making a wreath frame was simple and, interestingly, when I look at my pretty little effort, I'm reminded of the lovely morning I spent combing our fair shores.

Step 1
Spend time at the beach or river gathering your materials. I found it was easier and more interesting if you have an idea of what you would like to make. I decided on a simple driftwood wreath/frame, which I've used as a surround for a blackboard but the same thing could be used to frame a favourite photograph or a mirror.

Step 2
Cut a piece of plywood into a circle and paint with blackboard paint. Once dry, drill holes around the edge about 2cm apart.

Step 3
Drill a hole at one end of each piece of driftwood. Try to make the distance from the end to the hole the same on each piece.

Step 4
Thread a piece of wire through each driftwood piece to make a necklace.

Step 5
Line the necklace up in a straight line on a work bench. Using a straight edge as a guide, trim the tips of the pieces of drift wood at the tied end so the tops form a tidy line.

Step 6
Wrap the necklace around the edge of the plywood circle (I used a bucket as a template to keep the driftwood circle in shape). Then join the driftwood to the plywood by sewing them together with wire through the pre-drilled holes.

Step 7
Tie a piece of wire to the back so you can hang the wreath on a wall.

- NZ Herald

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