A Hippo Design - from guest blogger Ashley Beyer

Posted by Holly Buhler on

This week, let’s pay homage to the best glittery watercolors out there - The Smiling Hippo! We’ve been experimenting with different palettes and colors through these last weeks so it only seems fitting to do a little hippo design at last! Putting all of the tips and tricks we’ve highlighted into use, we can see what magic unfolds on your wood burning creations. 

For this post, you’ll need to grab a small piece of wood, your assortment of smiling hippo watercolors, whatever brushes or tools you need and of course, some water! For this design, I doodled out the same hippo as you see on all the products but feel free to do whatever hippo design you see fit! Below are some of the colors and tools I used - peep the cute storage cases!

Deciding what colors to use on the piece was the hardest part for me but as I’ve said before, don’t stress! Trust the process and all will turn out in the end! As these always go, first thing's first - sketch out your hippo on your piece of wood and burn it in! 


As you can see above, my wooden canvas is now ready! I did sand this piece before burning to make it smoother and more watercolor friendly but that is not a necessary step. It just makes the coloring process smoother. Next is the fun part, adding the colors!! I start with picking a few colors I know I want to use, and build off of that basis but do what feels right for you and your piece. Get creative with it and mix colors you otherwise wouldn’t - the end result will surprise you! 



It is important to remember how the different textures of the colors play into how much water they need and how that affects the dry time in between with pieces like this one where you have a lot of creative freedom. Because I sanded my wood smooth, my ‘canvas’ won’t require as much water to get the color to spread evenly. 


I purposefully mixed the chunky glitter watercolors with the shimmers and mattes to give it different levels of depth as it moved in the light. Personally, I love the way the light bounces off the watercolors and adds to the woodburned pieces. 



In order to get the big chunks of glitter from the palette to the wood, I get my thin brush extra wet and swirl it around carefully in the watercolor - ensuring I am picking up the bigger chunks as I do it. I then stipple it carefully into the wood in the spots I want it and let it air dry until dry to the touch. This allows the glitter to stick to the wood before I seal it in. Remember, adding water will make the color spread but it will also spread the glitter around and change where it is. For chunky glitter, taking extra caution to not accidentally hit it off or mix it into the next shade being used is dire! 


Once you get your colors and glitters where you want it, let it fully dry. It should be dry to the touch but not moist at all in the middle in order to seal it all in. If the wood is damp still, the sealant won’t dry properly and the watercolors will not be protected. 



Last thing to note before sealing is this: if you get the effect like the above photo where the watercolors are almost washing out the woodburned lines or letters - have no fear! There are ways to counteract this. The simplest solution when possible is to just lightly (and on a low temperature setting) retrace and burn the lines in again. This removes any watercolor that traveled outside the lines and will help redarken anything you want to be a clear line. Before I seal this piece (it’s air drying still), I will be darkening the lines in order to make it all pop in the end! Final pictures will be shared to my insta page (@firecrafted_serenity) for those who want to see the before and afters! 


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