How-to: Wood Burned Building Blocks with Watercolor Staining

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids’ own drawings are super special to us.  Here’s how to make your own set with your child’s art on it!

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids' own drawings are super special to us. Here's how to make your own set with your child's art on it!

Welcome back to my two-part series teaching you how to make EPIC embellished building blocks for your kids. On Monday, we took this set of building blocks that PlanToys gave me for free to embellish and personalize, and my kiddo and I stained them these vibrant colors using liquid watercolors.

After the building blocks were all colorful and beautiful, however, we still wanted to do something else special to them. After all, lots of kids have beautiful wooden building blocks stained in beautiful colors!

What lots of kids don’t have, however? What now only my two kids, out of all the kids in the entire world, have?

Building blocks with these exact drawings burned in, drawings that the kids created themselves.

These wood burned building blocks are super special to us. The kids love them because they love to see their own original creations on them–lots of dragons, couple of cats, flowers and sun and fire and clouds. I love them because I love having these pieces of their childhood to keep, to remember this time when their favorite things in the world are dragons and cats and flowers.

Want some memories of your own? Here’s what you need to make your own set:

building blocks. We used this set of 50 unit blocks from PlanToys. As I mentioned in my watercolor stained building blocks post, however, any plain, unfinished wooden blocks will work. If they’re scuffed or stained, run some sandpaper over them until they look new.

wood burner. These aren’t too pricey, and we use our wood burner a lot, but it’s definitely worth putting a call out to your friends to see if someone has one to borrow, if you don’t have your own. You could also go in on one with a few friends; there are a lot of lovely Christmas presents that one could make using a wood burner!

soft pencil and great eraser. #2 pencils are only good for test-taking and drawing designs on building blocks, I say!

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids' own drawings are super special to us. Here's how to make your own set with your child's art on it!

1. If you’re going to stain your blocks, do it first. You don’t have to stain your building blocks–the wood burning also looks lovely on unfinished wood–but my kids found that it was much easier to think up what to draw on their blocks when they were first stained. Yellow block? Draw a sun on it! Blue block? Clouds! Purple block? Flower! Green block? Dragon!

2. Let your kid’s artistic genius flow. I didn’t give my kids any instructions about how to create their drawings, and considering the variety of tips that any wood burner comes with, I can’t imagine that you’d have any trouble tracing over any drawing that a kid might come up with.

Just instruct your kid to press lightly, so that her pencil doesn’t live dents, and to erase her mistakes completely (give her an excellent eraser to help with that), and let her draw!

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids' own drawings are super special to us. Here's how to make your own set with your child's art on it!

3. Burn the drawing in. You might remember from a previous post that my kids are completely comfortable using the wood burner to make their own stuff. The reason why I did the wood burning for these blocks myself, however, and why I suggest that you do yours, too, is that building blocks can be made of really hard wood!

You can totally burn into hard wood, but you have to be very patient and work very slowly, and I don’t know about your kids, but that just does not suit my kids at. All. So give them some soft wood to play at burning into, and you do these blocks.

4. Erase the pencil marks. You’ll probably have some, so erase away! It won’t fade the staining.

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids' own drawings are super special to us. Here's how to make your own set with your child's art on it!

Bonus technique. See the pink and purple block in the photo above, the one that’s segmented into triangles? I used a different technique on that one. On that block, I did the wood burning first, then painted it with a paintbrush and a set of cake watercolors. This is a great technique for putting a more detailed design onto a block.

These blocks are so lovely and colorful, and so fun to make, that my kids often ask, now, to create custom blocks to incorporate into their play. Next week, for instance, my younger kid and I are going to wood burn pictures of playground equipment onto some blocks, since she’s decided that her dollhouse dolls urgently need their own playground.

I mean of course, right?

PlanToys gave us this set of building blocks for free, because I can’t write about something unless I’ve drawn dragons all over it!

These wood burned building blocks featuring my kids' own drawings are super special to us. Here's how to make your own set with your child's art on it!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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