Driftwood is everywhere and has been around since time began.
To your eyes these dirty broken bits of wood may be rubbish. To the artist or craftsman’s eye there is beauty and money to be made. I could no more stop bringing home driftwood as I could stop eating chocolate. Some pieces just touch a place in my soul, with stories it could tell of sunken ships or long ago homes and trees lost in a storm. Those are the ones that come home with me.
Some days I find an abundance of small bits, bringing visions of jewelry, buttons, coasters or just to toss in a bowl with flower petals. The larger pieces have been used for projects such as wreaths, candle holders, frames and even large decorative pieces in my home.
Sometimes very large ones have made it to my car with a lot of effort. These are the ones that are displayed in the yard and the garden, with dreams of furniture floating in our heads.
Now that our creative energy is flowing, let’s look at Driftwood as an overlooked source of income. It is being sold to pet owners, interior decorators, urban gardeners, artists and crafters at premium prices.
Make a list of the local stores that you think would be open to buying locally. From pet stores, garden suppliers, landscapers to artist, florists, crafters supply stores and interior decorators. Take pictures of your driftwood pieces. Be sure to use some kind of marker for them, to show the size.Take some of your best pieces with you and start knocking on doors.
Driftwood can also be sold directly to the consumer. This can be done in a couple of ways.
If you have an online style of life you may already have access to a worldwide market. You can find driftwood for sale online on ebay and other online marketplaces, in all different kinds of wood, and all shapes and sizes. I have included a few links as examples. The downside to this method is shipping the pieces and the accumulation of pieces that you need to sell.
Here are some links to online ideas for marketing.
There are driftwood pieces all shapes, sizes and wood types. Driftwood beads and small pieces drilled out for jewelry.
http://www.designsadrift.com/ Driftwood Art & Furniture by Maine Artist Michael Fleming
http://outerbanksdriftwood.com/ large pieces (over 100 lbs.) to pieces that will fit in the palm of your hand.
http://www.buydriftwoodforsale.com/ Prices ranging from 8.00 to 150.00
http://www.coastaldriftwood.com/main.sc 20.00 to 75.00
Another way to sell directly to the consumer is renting a booth at the flea market or craft fair. The downside of this one is the hard work in the set up and tear down of the tent and tables. This option is a stretch for some I know, but with the driftwood and other treasures you have found, this can be a profitable adventure. And you meet the most interesting people at flea markets and craft fairs.
Don’t forget to network!!
So, there are three entirely different ways to sell your driftwood treasures. One is bound to fit your personality. Do you feel more comfortable taking your treasures to the local business owners? Marketing online? Or, directly to the consumer? Can you do all three? There’s money to be made in driftwood if you put some time and effort into the process.
* Please note * State and local parks may have regulations about removing driftwood. Technically everything below the high tide level is public property but some places place restrictions on what you can do on the beach if you cross their property to get to the beach.
Here are some things to consider as you are making your list of local businesses:
Starting with the smaller pieces, check out the local craft suppliers and jewelry makers.
Medium sized pieces are useful to pet stores, interior decorators, artists, crafters and taxidermists for mounts. So look for these types of local businesses to put on your list of potential clientele.
The large pieces can be used by furniture makers, landscapers, florists and interior decorators for yards, ponds, arches and home décor. Look online for these types of craftsmen and women in your area.
When you check out your local pet shops, think more than fish tanks. People with aquariums, terrariums and vivariums, who keep fish, frogs and reptiles, like to shop for driftwood in all shapes and sizes.
You may find that they require hardwoods. Look in the creeks, lakes and other freshwater areas for a limb from an Oak tree or other hardwood. There is a process for pet stores to be able to use the piece of wood in the aquariums and terrariums unless you sell it to them raw.
Preparing the driftwood for use or sell:
Let’s talk a minute about what to do with your pieces when you bring them home. Before leaving the beach and putting them in your car, take the time to knock them on the ground a few times to knock off any unwanted dirt and pests. Once home, rinse them well with a garden hose and leave them outside so that the temperature and steady breeze allows airflow to circulate and dry the driftwood completely. It might take a few days to dry out.
Let them sun bake to allow the bacteria to die and the insects to leave.
If you want a lighter wood you can add a cup of household bleach to a couple of gallons of water and dip the wood in the solution. Make sure to wet all the surface of the driftwood with the bleach-water solution. If the driftwood is too large for the solution container, it can be mopped on with a rag. The sun will also continue the bleaching process and give the driftwood the lightest coloring possible. Leave the wood in the hot sun for a few days, turning them over several times. Driftwood weighs less when it is completely dry.
If you are preparing the driftwood for aquariums or other pet products:
You will need to soak the tannin out of the wood and then boil it. Your driftwood will need to be soaked in a bucket of water for a week (changing the water daily) before boiling it. Soaking the wood releases the tannic acid, which will turn your aquarium water brown if not prepared beforehand. Then the driftwood is boiled in water to kill algae and other unwelcome bugs.
I hope this post has made you think about what lays at your feet the next time you walk the shoreline. There are treasures there…reach out and take these gifts from the sea. *CC