Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Handmade Wood Altar

I begin every morning (or at least that's the goal) with my daily spiritual practice. Up 'til now, this included sitting down in front of a rather plain box on which I set up my simple altar - star goddess candle, incense, kala cup. I've been wanting to make a proper altar for myself to use for my daily practice for about a year and it's finally done! I'm rather proud of this project.

The altar is constructed of naturally felled elm. I was told the elm tree fell during our most recent firestorm. The legs are constructed of maple.

I had a large selection of pieces of wood to choose from, but as soon as I saw this piece, I knew it was for me. I absolutely love the grain pattern and the raw edge.

I hand-sanded the wood, envisioning how I would use it as I worked. To finish it, I simply oiled it.

This is how it looks when I use it for my daily practice.

This practice has, unfortunately, fallen victim to midterm craziness and I'm not sitting as much as I should. I'm consciously trying to get myself back on track and oddly enough, this altar is helping. I'm so in love with it, I find myself in my studio, circling it just to get a quick look. I run my hand over it, letting my fingers trace the raw edge. I carefully consider what I place on it, as I want to protect it and be mindful of what I call into manifestation with it.

Such is the beauty in creating your own spiritual tools.


Venecia said...

Hey, this looks great!

This is thesecondcircle from LJ. I love your craft blog and have to confess that I just started one of my own. I've just been putting up some of my crafty LJ posts to start, but I wanted a place just for crafty stuff.

It's at if you want to peek.

Anchored Away said...


Did other people oil theirs, or were there other options for decorating?

Amelia June said...

(hugs your blog)

I'm a pagan crafter myself, over from LJ. You'll be on my rss :D

Marni said...

Venecia - Welcome! This is the perfect place for craft blog. I'm excited to see what you going to put in yours. I've added a link to Those Things I Do to my blog. Hope you don't mind.

Anchored Away - I think everyone oiled their altars. But I also seem to recall there was stain there as well. But nobody wanted to use it because the oil made the wood so pretty. The grain just popped out!

Amelia June - Thanks! Who are you on LJ? We should connect there, too!

HedwigGraymalk said...

This is Audzilla from LJ.

May I ask what the dimensions of the altar are? It's a bit hard to tell over the internet. Also, how long did it take you to make it?

So far the only magickal thing I've made myself is my wand, which fell from my favorite tree in a wind storm.

Marni said...

Hedwiggraymalk - Hi there! Thanks so much for coming over from LJ and leaving me a message. The dimensions are:

18" wide
11" deep (approx)
6" high

It took about 2-3 hours to make.

Hope that helps!

A wand from a tree fell by a wind storm sounds quite apropos. Keep making your own tools! It's so rewarding.

I friended you on LJ. Hope that's ok. :)

søren said...

hi - I'm here from LJ but i don't want to say what my name is there because I don't want it to be too easy for any art customers to find my LJ. :P
but ANYWAY, this is awesome! How did you connect the legs? This is really inspiring to me but i have NO woodworking experience!

HedwigGraymalk said...

Thanks for the LJ add. I've added you back. :)

I plan on making some future tools as they're needed. I have serious doubts about my art skills (seems my sister got all those genes), but I really enjoy doing crafts, and I felt so... I don't know... empowered(?) when I made my wand.

I think my next project is going to be a box for my tarot deck. I just can't decide if I want to paint it or do wood burning. I've never tried wood burning, and I'm a little afraid of the permanence of any mistakes I make. At least with paint I can wipe away any mistakes if I'm fast enough.

Do you have any recommendations?

Abby said...

It's beautiful!!

Marni said...

Hi Soren,

The legs were attached with dowel joints. I like this joint because there is no visible hardware. The legs are just attached and you can't really tell how by looking at it.

An easier method of attaching the legs might be with an L-bracket and screws. Though you'd see the hardware from underneath, you wouldn't have to drill holes for any dowels. You'd just have to be sure to get screws that won't go through your altar top or legs.

If you are interested, you should try working with wood. A project like this is very simple and you'd be surprised how helpful the employees of your local home improvement center can be when you ask.

Hope that helps!


I know what you mean. Creating your own tools is extremely empowering and there's no better way to create an alignment with them.

As far as a tarot box is concerned, wood burning is easy, it just takes practice to get uniformity. I'd recommend getting a piece of scrap wood and just going to town with your wood burner before you use it on your box. Practice making straight lines, curves, dots, use various tips (if you have them) to produce various effects. Try to use the same type of wood your box is made of.

Besides painting, other methods of decorating a wood box include decoupage, mosaic, and assemblage. It just depends and how much time you want to invest and what look you are going for.

Good luck and remember to have fun!

Marni said...

Thanks, Abby! :D