Welcome to the Free Online LathArt How To and Patterns

We are artists who, in the 90’s took a detour into LathArt. We found a piece of Degroot LathArt in Robinson’s wallpaper store in North Carolina while on vacation and had it sent home We designed a few more pieces. All was quiet until the house went up for sale. More people wanted to buy the LathArt than the house!! That started us in the kit and pattern business. We created shortcuts, bought wood, premixed and packaged the stains, and took the kit to Sears just before Christmas and had line-ups!! We were selling a kit for $44.99 including everything but the glue and backerboard. The idea was a complete do-it-yourself kit that was a finished framed piece for your home, and also a lesson in a box.

After an article in Wood Magazine and Creative Woodworks, big business came calling, (well, small big business) and in 1997 we sold 10 designs to a group who called themselves Woodscape Art Kit. We showed them how to make Lathart and Lathart Kits, how to cut wood with lazers, and make stains and wood blanks. These guys operated on their own for many years, and created many of their own designs.

Have a look at our other LathArt sites for more info and hopefully soon, some discussion and more projects.

Happy LathArt

Sandpipers in Lath Art

Dave Lampman is currently active making and selling LathArt like this. After you have scrolled thru this page to learn how to make LathArt, be sure to visit his Slatcraft site under Other Lathart and Woodcraft Sites

Project, Pattern and Magazine Article from August 1997

Click on pattern to enlarge.

Instructions in project are included in the following magaine article, you can click on any page it will enlarge.

Creative Woodwork and Crafts is an amazing woodworking magazine, full of interesting woodworking projects. In August 1997 they published a project and interviewed me on my Lathart/Woodscape.

Note:Contact information in this article is no longer valid, and special offers mentioned in this article have expired and are no longer available.

LathArt Flowers on Windowsill

Degroot did a wonderful job on these flowers on the windowsill. It's hard to beat his sense of LathArt.

When you have finished learning how to make LathArt, enjoy our other sites, particularly the Help and Discussion Blog at http://latharthelp.blogspot.com/ to see how other LathArtists are designing and making their own LathArt

Finding lath wood

There is no need to use the exact sizes in the instructions, but it should be close. Ideally the wood should be about 1/4" thick and 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" wide. The frames can be the same size or slightly thicker and wider.

The wood should not be too "hairy" the way some stickers that have been ripped from green wood can be. The frames look nice hairy though.

If your wood depot doesn't carry this wood cheap (15 cents or less a stick for 24" lengths), try snowfence, sandfence, lattice makers and some farming supply for stickers. Do not buy fancy wood for this project. You can use pine or any other fir tree and ceder is very nice.

If you have no luck, try wainscotting, either the front or back, or rip your own from a 2 by 4.

(I have used the backside of wainscotting that was double the required width (about 3 inches), but had a groove down the. It looked great and was very cost effective. For that project, I used some 1" by 2" wood depot wood for the frame.)

Painting/Staining your Lathart

As woodworkers you probably know a lot about applying stains to wood. You know that different woods react differently and will absorb varied amounts of color. This is all part of the ORIGINAL WORK OF ART you are making here.

Here are a few good ideas for painting your lathart.

1. You can use deck stains. The colors are all nice and muted, and the transparency is close to perfect. If you are planning to make a lot of lathart, and want to maintain a consistant look across your work that becomes your style, then this is a good idea. This is an expensive way to make one painting.

2. Use student quality oil paints and mix your own colors. Beautiful stains can be gotten with oil paints that have been very diluted with Odorless Mineral Spirits. Create a neutralizer out of different amounts of ultramarine blue, raw umber and white and mix that with most of your colors to keep them from getting too bright. Apply the thin paint and then after about a minute or two, wipe off. Some wood types need to be preconditioned to accept the paint evenly, and you can do this by rubbing Odorless Mineral Spirits on the wood just before painting.

3. You can use acrylic craft or artist paint. This is the most difficult, but you can get good results on some wood and on others you will need to precondition by wiping with water, letting dry and then sanding. You should thin this with paint with water and some of the slow dry extenders available today.

(The method I use mostly is to mix my own oil paints. You get good at getting the right color quickly. I buy unltramarine blue, raw umber, red oxide, yellow ochre, and titanium white. This limited color gives my paintings unity. I get the colors for about $3.00 a tube each and $6.00 for the white for a total of $18.00. I buy my mineral spirits at the hardware for a few dollars. It takes forever to run out of paint)

NOTE: If you don't already know about this book, it is an invaluable reference for anyone mixing paint colors or wanting to match tole paint colors. Please note that the picture is not active for LOOK INSIDE. Those words came with the only graphic I could find..

Taken from AMAZON.COM

Book Description
No matter which brand of paints a decorative painter uses, projects detailed in pattern books will frequently list colors not readily available-colors which often must be matched for the project to turn out just right.
Back and better than ever, this indispensable, best-selling guide offers a simple solution to these color matching dilemmas, eliminating the need to buy a lot of new paint. Using the patented Tru-Color System, it allows painters to create any project using paints they already have-regardless of the brand used by the original artist.

Following an easy-to-reference alphabetical format, decorative painters can quickly match all the colors of the most popular acrylic brands, including Americana, Ceramcoat, Folk Art, Jo Sonja and 1837 Legacy (plus four oil brands, including Archival, Prima, Rembrandt and Winsor Newton). Where a perfect match is not available, a specific mix is provided. It's a truly revolutionary guide.

• Now includes 20% more oil and acrylic conversions • Saves decorative painters valuable time and money • Enables users to cross match colors among all major brands • Features more than 350 exact color swatches

About the Author
Bobbie Pearcy and her husband Neal own Tru-Color Systems, a company specializing in color matching for the decorative arts. They live in Danville, Indiana.

Product Details

Paperback: 97 pages
Publisher: North Light Books; 3rd edition (May 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0967772710
ISBN-13: 978-0967772714
Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Designing Your Own Simple Lath Art

Sometimes lathart looks best when it is very simple as you can see from some of the Degroot paintings and some of the examples below.

The easiest way to create a nice design quickly is to divide your painting into background and foreground. The backgound section will be make out of lath and can consist of sky and ground, wall and floor, sky and water, sky and mountains and water. An example of a wall and floor can be seen in the Degroot rocking horse. A more complex version of this technique is the Degroot covered bridge below if the covered bridge itself was changed to a foreground element.

Decide on the direction of the lath lines (you can do this on a small paper pattern) and the colors of the section parts. For example, if you decide on sky and mountains and water, you can make the sky light blue gray, the mountains dark dull green, and the water dark blue.

Follow the instructions at the bottom of this blog to make your lath background.

Cut and place your lath pieces, there should be no more than 3 or 4. How long did that take to cut, (5 minutes?).

Now cut out your foreground elements out of either basswood or balsa and glue them on top of your background creating a 3 dimentional piece of art. It is a good idea to try out these elements before you glue them, and in fact, I actually try them out in paper before cutting out the balsa.
(Yes, I use balsa because it is easy to cut with a utility knife).

Frame as in the instructions and hang.

Just to inspire you to try, here are some examples of how nice simple lathart can be. I wish I knew who the artist of this painting is so that I could give proper credit.

And these examples of the ultimate in dimensional lath-art using real weathered driftwood and fully carved forground pieces. WOW how unique!! The artist here is Canadian Ben Ploughman. I've seen these up close, and they would knock your socks off. I suspect he gets some of his lath from old weathered lobster traps, you can't do that with paint.

You can find a wealth of inspiration by doing a search of "lathart" or "lath art" using google or ebay.

Free Pattern - Making the Sail Boat Picture

If you click on the pictures below you will get a larger picture, and if you click on that you will get an even larger one. Now you can clearly see the lath direction lines.

You may want to print a few small copies of this pattern to try out colors, or you can simply follow my suggestions.

Scale the pattern up to the finished size you want, and make 2 copies of your large size pattern, one to cut up and one to fit the pieces onto.

Follow the instructions at the end of the main page.

Free Original Pattern - Sail Boat

Degroot Lath Art

While there are other artist that have made, and continue to make very nice Lath Art, one of my favorites is the Degroot Some of his Lath Art was mass produced in the 1970's by Austin Productions, and these today cost anywhere from $10 on ebay to $500 for a limited edition. Uses 1/4 inch thick real wood slats (ceder), and quite rustic. Here are a few more examples. They are all probably still his copyright, so do not use these designs unless you are sure of the status.

How to make a Lath Art Painting

Step by Step procedure for making Authentic Wood Lath Art.

You can enlarge the

First Project Preview - Original Pattern

by clicking on either of the pictures so that you can better see the lath direction lines.

You can buy the lath wood strips, (the suggested sizes are in this guide), or you can rip them yourself from a 2 by 4. I can usually make a large painting using one 2 by 4.

The Guide

1. Making the lath sheet
About 30 to 36 strips of lath (1/4" x 1 1/2" x 24") are required. These are glued (white glue is fine) to a single long sheet of kraft paper leaving a small, just noticeable, gap between each piece. Dry-bond glue sheets are even more convenient. For this method the lath is laid in place (good side down) with the dry glue sheet covering it and the kraft paper over that. Then ironed on with an old iron.

2. Cut apart the pattern
Each 'Primary' piece of the pattern is cut out for marking on the lath sheet. 'Secondary' pieces are pieces that lie within certain primary pieces and are cut apart and marked on the lath sheet the after all the primary pieces have been marked. These appear as dotted lines on the pattern.

3. Marking the pieces on the wood
'Primary' pieces are positioned on the lath sheet and 'oriented' so the black arrows line up with a given crack between the lath. This ensures the lath lines of the wood will run in the correct direction for each separate picture piece.

4. Saw out the pieces
All the primary pieces are cut out on the scroll saw or band saw. Try to stay right on the 'inside' edge of the pencil line. Then those pattern pieces which contain 'secondary' pieces are cut apart and the secondary line is marked the previously cut primary piece. This completes the scroll-saw work.

5. Final fitting of pieces
The picture pieces are put in place on the assembly pattern (2nd copy) to check for fit. Some trimming is usually required on a few pieces, but a little trimming goes a long way. Lathart pictures tend to look even better without perfectly flush joinings. In fact I have always created gaps in certain places if the sawing produced too few on its own. The darker line produced with a slightly bigger gap can produce an attractive emphasis.

6. Painting or staining
Lathart looks best when lots of blonde wood shows through the paint or stain, so we suggest you always use thinned out paints which you paint on and wipe thoroughly off. Ordinary Craft or Tole paints (available in all craft stores - eg: Delta brand) work very well. Each pattern pack comes with Delta color names/numbers and a basic blending guide for getting the color right. But you may want to create your own look, perhaps with deck stains, or other paints. you have around. The 8 frame pieces (3/8" x 1 1/2" x 'X') are done the same way.

7. Final picture assembly
The painted pieces are glued on to the assembly pattern first (spot glue them), then that is in turn glued on to a backer-board (1/2" particle board is fine). Then the frame is nailed in place. (More info on framing is included below)

8. Framing

The backer-board is cut bigger than the picture to exactly accommodate the inner frame pieces which lay flat and are nailed to the backer-board (backer and inner frame pieces must be flush). Then the 4 piece outer frame is fitted (like the inner frame do the top and bottom first, then the sides) and nailed to the side of the backer-board. A 1/4" 'lip' is created by the edge of the outer frame extending higher than the inner frame.

Note how the top and bottom pieces of both the inner frame and the outer frame extend out to the edge, with the side pieces of both inner and outer frames abutting the top and bottom components.

The outer frame is nailed with 1 1/4" finishing nails, aimed toward the backer-board, plus 2 or 3 extra nails set into the adjoining outer frame pieces at each corner. This gives additional support when handling the picture.

Both Chris and Rod have photos of the steps they use to create their LathArt on their websites. Be sure to check them out under Other LathArt and Woodscraft Sites