I first saw wood paper several years ago on a visit to Rugg Road Paper, one of my favorite Boston paperies. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. I immediately began brainstorming and quickly came up with a list of crafty type things that I could do with the paper. Unfortunately, I never got around to it, but I continued to think about that paper and always had the intention of someday crafting with the wondrous stuff.
Fast forward to today. I’m so excited to see the trend in wood veneer cards and invitations. Shops like Night Owl Paper Goods and Oslo Press are doing magical things with veneer, and I know that they’ve inspired so much interest and excitement not only for their own lines but for myself and other d.i.y.’ers, crafters, and artisans who are bursting at the seams to work with veneer to create their own masterpieces.
Thanks to the Paper Crave readers who have expressed an interest in learning more about working with veneer on their own card and invitation projects, I’ve put together this guide that will hopefully help you get started in making your own wood veneer creations. I’ll be the first to admit that I am, by no means, an expert on this subject. The information found here is a result of my research, with help from Tina of Joie Studio, who kindly offered information and suggestions about what she’s discovered in her experiments with wood veneer. Thanks, Tina! If anyone has additional information with regard to suppliers and techniques, please, please, please feel free to jump in via the comments.
Wood Veneer Supplies
There’s a wide world of veneer out there for those who seek to find it. From birch and cherry to oak and maple to exotic woods like teak, burl, and mahogany, it’s all available in veneer form.
Several types of veneer are available. Flexible wood veneer works well in a number of applications and would probably be the best to cut and work with if you’re going to make cards and invites. You can buy unbacked (more fragile to work with because there’s no underlying structure to keep it together), paper backed (backed with a thin paper to give the veneer more stability), and two or three ply (less flexible but makes for a more sturdy presentation because it’s backed with another sheet of wood).
Okay, so where to start if you’re a beginner? Thankfully, a number of veneer suppliers carry fantastic (and economical) starter kits and/or sample books that contain a variety of different wood veneers and sometimes a variety of backings, too. This 41 piece veneer sample book and this starter veneer kit are my favorite finds.
Here are some of the most promising looking wood veneer suppliers that I found in my search:
Kate’s Paperie – carries a small variety of wood veneer paper (birch, cherry, mahogany, and pine), but a good option if you’re going to be buying other paper goods and want to give veneer a try.
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware – has good prices and a nice variety of flexible and two ply veneers. They also offer a very nicely priced starter veneer kit.
VeneerSupplies.com – generally deals with larger sheets of veneer but has a nice variety and a great looking veneer sample book that would be perfect for experimentation. You can also pick up a sample pack and 8″ x 10″ samples of individual veneers.
Ovis – has a nice variety of larger sheets of veneer. They carry some wonderful woods like Bird’s Eye Maple, Rosewood, Teak, and Walnut.
Oakwood Veneer Company – has what looks like every wood veneer under the sun. Ash, Bamboo, Cypruss, Elm, Hickory, Pecan, Zebrawood, and dozens more are available.
eBay – has a nice variety of veneers, but be sure to read descriptions for thickness and size.
I can’t personally vouch for any of these suppliers, and if you have any questions, please contact the suppliers because I’m sure that they’re more than happy to give you more information and answer whatever questions they can, and they may even offer to send samples.
You shouldn’t need too many specialized tools to work with veneer. Because it’s thin, a rotary cutter or an xacto knife combined with a straight edge (a ruler, etc.) and a cutting mat should suffice in getting a good cut. You may have to run your cutter or knife over the same area a few times for a clean cut, especially if you’re working with a multi-ply veneer.
If you want to make more exotic shapes, a heavy duty pair of sharp scissors should do the trick.
Inkjet and Laser Printers
Some wood veneer papers are supposed to work well with inkjet printers; however, I haven’t come across any successful experiments with this. You’ll need a printer that works well with thick papers and has a flat or fairly flat bed so the paper goes through smoothly. I’m not certain how the ink wood take to the veneer, either.
Tina from Joie Studio was kind enough to share the results of her experiments with wood veneer and letterpress. You can see her results here and here. She noticed that letterpress works differently on different types of wood and recommends trying a variety of different wood veneers to see what you like best. Her favorites so far are red cedar and maple. Thanks, again, to Tina!
Gocco and Screen Printing
Paper Menagerie has been experimenting with wood veneer and Gocco. You can see the results of her experimentation on her blog here. It sounds like many Gocco-ers have troubles with printing on wood veneer; however, I think that her result was pretty darn good. I think the key is experimentation. I would say to stick with a simpler image (nothing with intricate details) to start since the ink may bleed and ruin any intricate details.
Just a thought – would a fabric medium help with the ink bleeding on the veneer? If you could use some sort of medium that would increase viscosity, it may help the ink hold its “shape” on an untreated surface like veneer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about different printing techniques, but I saw the quite timely d.i.y. wood veneer lampshade project at Design*Sponge the other day, and that started me thinking about what you could do with paper punches.
Martha Stewart Crafts and Impress Rubber Stamps have many interesting shapes to get you started. Combine a number of shapes, or use a simple shape like a small circle or several sizes of small circles to create a design that looks like it was laser cut. Use a scalloped circle, plain circle, tag, or postage stamp punch to make really cute gift tags or appliqués for scrapbooking, cards, and stationery.
There are so many things that you could do with rubber stamps. Combine stamps to create your own design; use glitters, flocking, and embossing powders to create interesting textures; create your own rubber stamps to use on the veneer and create your own custom designs.
Whew, that was a lot of information! I hope that this gets you started down the road of paper crafting with wood veneer, and I’d love to hear about your experiments, results, and recommendations. Please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. I think that I may have to finally buy some wood veneer and start creating my own crafts from the list that I made so many years ago after first seeing the wood paper.