Paisley and Cypress {Sawdust and Embryos}
Make an old tray into a gorgeous decorative mosaic tray using just about ANYTHING as the mosaic! {Sawdust and Embryos}
Make your own simple vertical succulent planter using hose clamps and tiny terra cotta pots {Sawdust and Embryos}

Shading with Stain… Giant Sunflower Art!

I think I’ve teased you guys long enough about this giant sunflower ‘stained art’ I’ve been working on. It’s finally done and ready to share! I used inspiration from the beautiful photography by Michele at Simplify Live Love. I’ve actually met her in real life, and she’s as lovely in person as she is on her blog… where she shares all the details of organic gardening, living green, homeschooling, and building a passive aggressive house! Be sure to follow her on Instagram to see more of her stunning photography of her acreage.

Gorgeous sunflower photography by Michelle at 'Simplify Live Love'Simplify Live Love

I was commissioned by a client in Georgia to create a massive 7’ x 8’ piece of wooden art using this sunflower as inspiration. So we bought rough-cut Alder wood, planed all the planks to 1/2” thickness, ripped lengthwise for perfectly straight boards, and glued them together in 3 separate panels for easier shipping. (can you imaging shipping a piece of art that’s bigger than your king size bed? YEAH) Then there was a lot of sanding, sanding, and… oh yeah MORE SANDING! This big girl needed to be soooo smooth before she’s ready for my staining technique.

sunflower art2

Finally all the preparations had been made, the art was upright and ready for me! (I briefly considered staining this piece flat on the ground instead of upright like this to save my back… but I decided that crawling around on my knees on wood seemed more painful in the end)

Getting prepped to stain a giant slab of wood to look like a sunflower using my trademark 'Shading with Stain' technique {Sawdust and Embryos}

The girls get pretty excited about each and every project we tackle, and want to be included and ‘help’ whenever we let them. It’s the sweetest thing, and I love that they’re learning good work ethic in the process.

It’s time! I put on my jamz (Meghan Trainor Radio on Pandora), and gathered my wood stains!. This time around I used Gel Stain by Shabby Paints for the brown shades, and Unicorn Spit for the brightly colored stains. Both of these are water-based which is SO NICE not having to worry about those nasty fumes.

Water based wood stains for wooden artwork and 'Shading with Stain' {Sawdust and Embryos}

You’ll have to watch the video below to see the finished product, but here’s a little sneak preview of my beautiful mess.

Using wood stain to make beautiful artwork on wood! {Sawdust and Embryos} #shadingwithstain

For those of you with eagle-eyes that noticed the paintbrush in the pic above… FINE I cheated! But only because I needed a circular blotchy effect for the stamens in the center of the flower, and this stipling paintbrush technique worked perfectly! It’s also my favorite part of the video… just watch:

My process is pretty much always the same… print image, trace onto transparency with a Sharpie, project onto the wood with an overhead projector, and trace with a pencil!

#shadingwithstain {Sawdust and Embryos}

There are literally hundreds of people that have tried this technique of ‘Shading with Stain’ and shared pictures with me. It makes me feel all proud-mama-ish, and so happy that y’all are stepping out of your comfort-zones and trying something new! Here’s a collage of the most recent batch of reader projects I’ve received via email and Facebook. Keep ‘em coming peeps!

#shadingwithstain technique inspired by Sawdust and Embryos

If you feel compelled to try this for yourself, be sure to read through my beginner’s tutorial here where I talk about the technique and products and such. There’s also a video tutorial where I walk you through it step-by-step. There’s nothing to lose! Just practice on a scrap piece of wood, and there’s no pressure!

Thanks to everyone for sharing our videos and making this a THING! It’s so fun seeing so many other people inspired!

Check out the other projects WE’VE done using our signature ‘Shading with Stain’ technique! Each image below links to a post, so feel free to click around!

Artwork on furniture using wood stain {Sawdust and Embryos} Wood Stain Artwork {Sawdust and Embryos}
Artwork using Wood Stain {Sawdust and Embryos}_thumb Shading with Stain {Gradual Staining Technique by Sawdust and Embryos}_thumb
Dining table with succulents stained on top! {Sawdust and Embryos} End-table-using-Wood-Stained-Artwork-technique-by-Sawdust-and-Embryos_thumb
Shading-with-Stain-Sawdust-and-Embryos1 Artwork-using-wood-stain...-its-easier-than-it-looks-Sawdust-and-Embryos


Fall / Autumn Related DIY Projects and Recipes


I’m finishing up a few things that I’m suuuuuper excited to share here. But alas, as I mentioned last week, I’ve not been so productive or motivated lately... so things are slow moving. Here’s an example: Nick and I went to bed at 9 o’clock last night. And then we woke up at 6. That means we slept 9 hours for no reason that is real. I painted the girls nails just now, and they’re watching an episode of Veggie Tales... so I have a half hour of down time! So I shall share a little roundup of … [Read More...]


Paisley and Cypress {Sawdust and Embryos}

Gosh you guys... I’ve been trying to write a post all week about a question I get asked a lot... HOW ARE YOU SO PRODUCTIVE?! But I keep laughing and snorting, and spraying coffee out of my nose at the very thought of having any authority on this subject. It just comes down to this: I only blog about things that I DO. I’ve never written a post about the MANY afternoons that I spend doing this: Or that day I fed my kids plain tortillas for lunch because I didn’t feel like preparing … [Read More...]

Decorative Mosaic Tray

Make an old tray into a gorgeous decorative mosaic tray using just about ANYTHING as the mosaic! {Sawdust and Embryos}

Heyyyyyy dudes! Happy Friday one and all! We survived the week, yeah?! I’m especially excited for this weekend, because we have nothing planned. Zilch. Those are my favorite of weekends, because I feel like I get to truly unwind and spend time with my family. I used to be such a people person... WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?! Anywho! I have another fun-slash-simple project today... Contain your excitement! Ever since we shared the tutorial for our Leather Tufted Ottoman, we’ve had people … [Read More...]

One Board Challenge and Giveaway!


Good morning beautiful friends! Today I have a SUPER FUN contest to share with you. I’m not talking about a giveaway where you enter your name and email and hope for the best. We’re inviting you to roll up your sleeves and get some sawdust in your hair. Remember earlier this summer when I participated in a One Board Challenge with a handful of other Buildy Bloggers? We each used the same sized board (1” x 8” x 8’) and built WHATEVER THE HECK WE WANTED OUT OF IT. You guys were so excited … [Read More...]

Vertical Succulent Wall Planter Tutorial

Make your own simple vertical succulent planter using hose clamps and tiny terra cotta pots {Sawdust and Embryos}

I’ve been noticing a pattern in my creative projects... I’m either working on big projects like focusing on a room transformation (like the kitchen or ‘Laundry Suite’), or I’m going through phases where I kick back and work on lots of smallish projects here and there. Whenever I get comments like ‘that’s awesome, but I could never do that’ makes me feel so defeated. So throwing in some simple projects that you could go knock out in an afternoon does us all some good, right?! Group … [Read More...]

Styled x3 Challenge… THE WOODEN BOWL!


One of my fave blogging buddies, Stacy from Not Just a Housewife, has a monthly series where she sends a couple bloggers the same exact item to do with whatever they want. Each month it’s a different item, and each month it’s different set of bloggers... and each month the outcome of people’s creativity always astounds me! Stacy calls it Styled X3. So obviously with such a fun premise, I’m super excited to be a part of this collaboration this month! I was so anxious to see what item would … [Read More...]

Conquering a Crippling Fear

Helping kids (and ourselves) overcome a fear of bugs {Sawdust and Embryos}

I’ve talked about my crippling fear of crickets here on the blog before. It had gotten to the point where I would despise summertime and look forward to winter just to be able to breathe easy and not constantly fear coming upon a cricket. You guys made me feel a lot better when I wrote that post by sharing your own irrational fears in the comments. Isn’t it crazy how our minds can take over all logical thought? source I’m completely aware of the fact that crickets are harmless and couldn’t … [Read More...]

Shading with Stain on Dining Table {Succulents}

'Shading with Wood Stain' technique by Sawdust and Embryos

So lately I’ve been keeping my eye out for old tables at yard sales. The only stipulations I have is that they be sturdy, solid wood, and dirt cheap. This 90’s honey oak pedestal table fell into that category at $20 buckeroos. First order of business was to strip the top surface. I used the same techniques from my stripping tutorial to completely remove the finish down to the raw wood grain. It’s a messy job, but somebody’s gotta do it! The beauty about this is that it also removes … [Read More...]

Upholstered Ottoman (Diamond Tufting}


There’s just something about posting ‘After pics’ in the Part 1 post that takes all the fun out of writing the Part 2 post. I need to quit doing that! You already know how awesome our Leather Tufted Storage Ottoman turned out… and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you are actually going to build one of these for yourselves… so I must persevere and  knock out this Part 2! *Deep Breaths* Now that we taught you how to make the base, let’s talk about the tufting of that cushy … [Read More...]