Art Project :: Mango Ships

With all this talk about ships and sailing around here, I want to share one of my favorite DIY projects so far for our house.

Since I took these pictures, we’ve renovated the stairwell, and the awful red paint and carpet are gone – so let’s just ignore those for now. But the project we’re calling the “Mango Ships” is still hanging there on the wall and we love it.

It’s really hard to find good solid materials here in Hawaii. Shipping things out here gets pretty expensive, so the lumber yards just don’t have the supplies you can find on the mainland. Add to that the fact that most of the good places are contractor/buy in bulk only, and our ability to get the good stuff gets reduced to, basically, Lowe’s and Home Depot. Which wouldn’t be bad, except see the point about shipping. They just don’t have great stuff.

Fortunately, Scott and I discovered an awesome place called Re-use Hawaii. Their specialty is deconstructing old houses and then re-selling the materials. So not only do you get to pick from some pretty amazing materials {they deconstruct huge houses made of beautiful materials out in Hawaii Kai} but you keep refuse from the landfill!

On one of our trips, we found a gorgeous piece of wood, which we think is either mango or monkeypod. It’s dense and gorgeous. It was covered with a dull brown lacquer and we think it was used as a side table, but all it took was some wood stripper and work with a heavy duty sander, and I was able to really see the beauty of the wood.

Look at the ripples of color in there!

Scott and I had talked about a number of different things to do with this piece, but we knew it was going to turn into an art piece. To me, the swirls of color looked like waves, so I decided to varnish and poly the wood and attach metal ships.

I used Minwax Natural Stain and Minwax Polyurethane coating.

I attached the ships with long screws through the wood piece. It ended up being a huge pain to get the screws to attach, since the attachment points on the boats weren’t long enough to make it all the way through the wood.

But I managed! Yay for persistence!

I’m really, really happy with how this piece came out, and that we were able to rescue this lovely mango – or monkeypod, as it may be! – from being potentially discarded!

Update: The Mango Ships hung in the Aloha House until we sold. However, my father-in-law saw them on a trip and absolutely loved them, enough that he asked if we would make him an art piece like this. I hadn’t been able to find any comparable wood pieces, so we gave him the Mango Ships. They’re now hanging in my in-laws’ house in Denver, and we’re happy that they’re in a place where they’re loved 


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