How To Make Prints From A Tree Ring

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I made some custom artwork for my house by turning a tree stump into a stamp and imprinting the growth rings on a sheet of paper. Let me show you how I did it.

Things I Used in This Project:

I first grabbed a tree from my property. This is mesquite. It had been cut with a chainsaw. And while not too rough, the surface wasn’t perfectly flat. So I used my Triton Belt Sander to work on getting it flat. However, while it was working, it was taking a bit too long.

So I decided to take down the bulk of the unevenness with my Triton Electric Planer instead. I originally used my small planer to hit the high spots. Then after getting the surface roughly down to the same level, I switched to using my larger Triton 7″ Planer.

Then, after a few passes with the belt sander again, I had a smooth surface that was nice and flat. It’s important to get a nice flat surface so that your paper can hit everywhere on the stump and transfer the ring pattern.

So now the stump is nice and smooth. But in order to make the print work, you need high and low spots. When looking at a tree ring there are portions that are soft wood and hard wood. The idea to make a stump into a stamp is to use heat to slightly burn away the soft wood so that the harder rings are pronounced.

I decided to upgrade to my propane bottle torch to speed up the process. I was aiming to get a nice and even burn without charing the surface.

Afterwards, I used a wire brush to remove the debris I created. If you can run your fingers over the surface and feel the distinct tree rings, then you’ve done enough.

Then I let the stump fully cool down because up next is applying ink and you dont want the stump to be hot when doing so.

I’d first use a spray bottle and wet down the surface of the stump. This will help the paint from soaking in and instead remain on the surface. I’m using acrylic ink and applied it using a foam roller.

After making sure the entire surface was coated, I lined up my paper and set it in place, being careful not to shift it side to side once it was down.

I would then carefully peel the paper up from the stump to reveal the outcome. Pretty neat!

I was having so much fun with the process that I decided to make some more, playing with the amount of ink I used. I found that if you used too much ink, the image came out smudged looking. And if you don’t apply too much, the image comes out faded and the paper sticks to the stump.

Once I had the process down, I started playing with color. I used water to rinse in between colors. Then I’d apply a new color and play.

Then, after the prints were fully dry, I placed them in a frame and hung them up. Now I have some custom artwork in my house that I absolutely love.

Be sure to watch the video for an even better tutorial. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this one. I will see you on my next project!

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