DIY is Easier Than You Think / Upcycled Octopus Art

Hey everyone!

My husband has never considered himself an artist, but he truly is! He is self taught and has made a few things around the house more beautiful by thinking beyond the norm. When I posted the photos of my living room a few weeks ago, a bunch of people zeroed in on the large art piece on my mantle. I searched for some photos of the piece’s other incarnations and decided to post them here.

The Story:

A few years ago my husband and I were searching for a coffee table. We were living on a college budget and did not have a lot to spend. So we did what we usually do: we went to the thrift stores. We found a simple wooden coffee table for $5 and we were happy to have it. It traveled with us unchanged to two different homes before I got the itch. The “I hate this piece of furniture” itch. This happens from time to time. I just turn my sights on something in the house that I find to be less beautiful than the rest. But, try as I might, I couldn’t find something that made me happy. My clever husband asked if he could make it better. Absolutely! What did we have to lose?

Here is what he did:

First, he sanded the entire table.

After that he made a free-hand sketch of the octopus in pencil on the tabletop.

Then he busted out his wood burning tool. This was the first time ever that he used the tool, but he was confident he’d make it better since the table already had one foot out the door.

Later, he traced the penciled sketch with the wood burning tool. This took several hours because he wanted the lines to be straight.

Because we do upcycles and crafts so often, we end up with odds and ends like paint, wood stains, extra wood pieces, fabric, spray paint, etc. He looked through our stash of wood stains and found two different complimentary tones and used them to make a darker area “behind” the octopus. Then he stained the octopus itself a lighter color! Voila!

We let it dry for a while before putting on a clear coat to minimize scratches.

This is what it looked like:image

Bonus shot of my living room in 2012! So many changes since then!

Sadly, the coffee table art was rarely seen because, like any coffee table, it was always covered in stuff. You can see that in the photo. Stuff.

It was also too big for the space. I didn’t want to get rid of it, though, because it was special. It even had a little love note burned into the underside.

Ever crafty, my husband took off the legs and put it on the mantle! GENIUS!


It has been there ever since. Photo by Juls Knapp Photography

Until next time, dolls.

Check out Viva Wild Vintage on Etsy!


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