Wood Shim Flower Art

Today I am re-posting an old tutorial I did. I was moving tutorials to the “tutorial” page and realized that this might be something nice to see again! Back in August I think I had 3 followers so I can pretty safely say most of you haven’t seen it!
Sunflowers are sort of Fall-like but with Spring stuff showing up everywhere, I was in the need of a flower fix.
So, here you are!
The pictures are pretty bad…..

I’m sure you may have seen all the variations of the wooden starburst mirror that have been floating around the blog world lately. 
Check out this tutorial from J & J Home jandjhome.blogspot.com if a mirror interests you.
 Look under the DIY section and click on the Starburst Mirror.
 I liked the general idea, but I didn’t need a mirror. However as soon as I looked at the examples, I saw a flower.

I had been wanting a large seasonal decoration for my porch as I have this blank wall area between my dining room windows.

 I have had a very large rusty star there for awhile but I was tired of that. 
So, a sunflower decoration was definitely in order!
You’ll need :
wood shims from the hardware store
 3 shades of yellow spray paint
a couple packages of those steel coil pan scrubbers
Loctite glue (there’s a pic below)
Stone paint
2 part rust paint

As you can see in the J & J Home version, flat wooden rings were used for the base. 
I wanted mine to stand away from the wall a bit, 
so I decided to use a galvanized pan as the base
I first sanded the shiny finish off and then gave it a  crusted, rusty appearance.

 If you don’t want the rusted look, sand the pan 
and then use an acid to make it look weathered. 
You can try lemon juice, vinegar, pickle juice, etc. 
If you really want a distressed look, put on some gloves and use muriatic acid…be careful. 
So, my rust method employs some dark colored faux stone spray 
and then the two part faux rust paint you can get at the craft store or the hardware store. Remember that rust begins wherever water can pool a bit…like crevices and dings. 
So, I sprayed short shots of the stone paint along the rim of the pan 
and along the sides where there are small indentations caused by the shaping of the pan 
when it was manufactured. 
Let that dry well…several hours. 
Then follow up with the two part rust technique 
(follow the directions on your product)
 initially just focusing on the areas you have done with the stone paint. 
Take a look and add more wherever you like. 
You can skip the bottom of the pan as it will be completely covered.
While all the drying is going on, take your wooden shims and paint them 
with three different shades of yellow.
 I laid out 20 or so and did one color (front and back)
 then repeated the process with the next two colors. 
They dry pretty quickly.  I found a case of wood shims for about $50. 
I am planning on making these for my next porch sale so I chose to buy in bulk. Wood shims are also available in small bunches and run about $3 or so a bunch. 
The bad thing is I didn’t count how many I used but I am going to guess about 30 or so. 
I think the packages contain about 10-12 so it’s a very inexpensive project.
Now you are ready to start assembling. 
I took the advice of my construction hubby and used this glue 
to secure the shims to the galvanized pan. 
It’s not cheap, I think it was about $6 but since this was going into the shop for sale,
 I REALLY needed it to be secure. You can also use a tube of construction glue if you have a glue gun. 
NO HOT GLUE….resist the urge, it will not hold well.

 Lay the shims out evenly first without gluing so you can see how many you need. 
Make sure the thinner end of the shim  is toward the center of the pan.
 I just randomly pulled shims out of my bucket so the colors would not be too even.
 If you like how it looks, then glue down the first layer, no overlapping. I put a couple paint cans on top and left it for a couple hours. 
This base layer is very important so try and be patient…..I know it’s hard!

The next layer should come inward toward the middle just about 1/2 inch or so 
and the shims should overlap the gaps between the first layer of shims. 
Put a weight on it again and let it dry. 
Warning….the glue does not dry clear….a big negative for me. 
So, don’t overdo the glue so it squishes out too much. 
If it does, wipe it off before you are finished with that layer.
I found putting 2-3 spaced out dabs on each shim worked well. 
You can cover up some of the glue if you miss a spot by placing a shim over it
 but it’s easier to just not have the problem if you can avoid it.
 I did four layers of shims. As you move in that 1/2 inch to the center
 you will have the varying lengths at the outside edges adding depth to the flower. 
You can choose to leave them all even if you like that look better too. 
The nice thing is that you can lay out several layers of shims 
without starting to glue at all so you get a chance to see how you like it. 
This sunflower ended up being 27″ across but you can make it as large or small as you like. You can also use a flat wood circle cut to the size you prefer as your base as well…
it’s very customizable for your space.

Back to the tutorial…..on my last layer, 
I pressed the shim down into the center open area a bit so the “petals” would stand up some. Hopefully you can see what I mean.

I wanted the center of my flower to fit the “hardware” type feeling I had 
so I used steel scrubbers (yes, the ones you get for pots and pans) for the center.
 If you can get the non-stainless steel type, they will rust on their own.
 I couldn’t find them so I used my two part rust paint on them. 
First, pull them apart a bit so they are not those little rounded balls.
 I think I used about 5-6 of them. Lay them out on your drop cloth
 and paint them with the rust paint. I used the same glue I had been using for the shims
 to secure them to the galvanized pan. I just tried to get them attached as best I could, 
weighted them and left them for a couple hours. When I came back,
 I checked for loose areas and repeated it if needed. 
Make sure you get the space between the shims and the center well covered. 
You shouldn’t see any galvanized pan showing.

As a final step, I spritzed it with some walnut ink and also added some dabs of color 
closer to the center of the flower where it might be a bit darker naturally. 
Use your own artistic flair to make it unique. It can be more or less yellow, or orange. 
You can even make a pink or purple one if that suits you!

The sunflower will be hanging up so I suggest you have someone hold it up 
while you look to see if the scrubbers are well attached when it is vertical 
and that there are no gaps. 
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned attaching a hanger yet. 
That’s because, while someone was holding it, I wanted to turn it to the best view 
before I decided where to put the hanger. Sorry I don’t have a picture of that part.
 I drilled two holes in the rim of the pan and made a simple rusty wire loop.
 Very suitable to hang outside. I think it could hang anywhere 
as long as you are prepared to let it weather some.

So there you have it. One of my first (if not THE first) tutorial I ever did. 
I never took a picture of it hanging up because it sold the next week! 
So you’ll have to be satisfied with the bad pictures you’ve seen already!
I wanted to run it again because it really has a nice rustic, organic feel and would be a great project if you’re looking for a new  outdoor decoration!

Sharing with:
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Coastal Charm
Our Delightful Home


  1. Could you do a tutorial on moving tutorials to a tutorial page?

    ~Brawn~ (Bliss was too embarrassed to sign her name to this comment)

  2. Creative idea! I would love for you to stop by and link up at my linky party via: ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

    Mrs. Delightful

  3. Hey Miss L! I love this. I think this may be my summer door decoration….hmmmmmmmm (that is me thinking seriously) It means a trip to the store, but I think I can do that!

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