artworkDIYdiy projectskate pruitt

diy project: scandinavian-inspired wooden heart

by Kate Pruitt

Every once in a while, I like to try out DIY projects that are very simple, almost too simple: few materials, even fewer steps and no big requirements for effort or money. There’s a time and a place for a massive, complex DIY, but right now, when it’s rainy and everyone I know is catching colds and sniffles, I want something I can polish off in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea and watch a couple old episodes of 30 Rock . . . man, that first season was good!

This simple balsa-wood heart is inspired by the minimalist, nature-inspired interiors I’ve been admiring lately, like the ones I imagine Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown might possess. This heart is so, so easy to make and very versatile for display around the home. Stick it to a wall, hang it in a corner, prop it on a shelf — it’s pretty easy to make use of it. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did. Enjoy! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • two balsa-wood strips (1/32″ x 2″ x 35″)
  • wood stain
  • foam brush for staining
  • hot-glue gun
  • scissors


1. Remove stickers and any sticky residue from the balsa strips and stain one side of each strip. Be careful not to let any stain drip over the edges or get on the other side of the wood, and leave the strips in a well-ventilated place until the stain is completely dry.

Note: You’ll notice that in my process shots, the wood is not stained. This is because I decided to stain at the end, so I could see what the heart looked like completely untreated. If you are sure you want to stain, it’s best to do this step before assembly; however, if you want to wait to make the decision, it is relatively easy to stain the interior of the heart once you’ve assembled it.

2. Take one strip and gently pull one edge until it overlaps the other edge, forming a teardrop shape out of the strip. You want the edges to be almost exactly perpendicular to each other when they overlap, but then pushed to a slightly more acute angle, as you can see here. Put a big dab of hot glue between the edges, then press firmly and hold until the glue sets. Repeat with the second strip.

3. Once both strips are in identical teardrop shapes, hold them so that their bases overlap (similar to the way you assembled the strips in step 2). The right side of the left teardrop and the left side of the right teardrop should overlap each other and form a straight line until the shapes begin to curve away, forming a heart shape.

4. While holding the heart shape in place, put a dab of hot glue between the two bases and pinch firmly while the glue sets. Now your heart shape is firmly adhered and cannot be adjusted.

5. Snip off the overlapping edges with a sharp pair of scissors to clean up the bottom edge of the heart shape. If they fray a bit, you can easily clean up the edges with a fine-grit sandpaper.

6. Now your heart is ready to hang or prop up for display. The piece is so lightweight that you can attach it to a wall with adhesive or sticky glue dots, but if you wish to make the display more permanent, you can use a very tiny tack or nail through the base to hold it in place. You can also hang the heart or prop it up on a tabletop or shelf for a simple, modern display.


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  • What a clever idea, it’s an instant sculpture. One of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments. This could springboard a thousand pieces of wall art!

  • This is so simple but elegant, and just plain cute! I’ve already got many ideas on what to do with it. Must try! Thanks!!!! =D

  • There’s a more complex version of something like this made with basketry reed, which my mom (a basketmaker) makes as a christmas ornament — she calls them Alleghany Snowflakes, and they come out as five pointed stars with a woven center. They’re one of her best sellers all year round, not just in the Christmas season, and people have recently been asking her to make bigger and bigger ones for wall-art.

  • We had to do a balsa wood project in design class… this project of Kate’s looks WAY better than the complicated mess I created! What a beautiful, clean design :)

  • I LOVE THIS. I am fully obsessed with the Scandinavian look and I appreciate so much how this simple, inexpensive project can bring a little of that feel into a room. And I agree with what others have said, the simplicity of this lends itself to reinterpretation and exploring other fun shapes and structures with balsa wood. THANK YOU!

  • can i use any other wood my town is small dont have any craft store but i do have palms?

  • Would this project still work if the strips were painted with color instead of staining? I’ve never worked with balsa wood, so I was wondering if it would change the pliability…

  • I tried staining this on one side and the stain seeped thru to the other side and I only used a small bit of stain them I wiped it off. Would conditioning the wood help? or did I do something wrong? Please help.

  • I tried this project by staining the wood first and it made the wood too stiff. I was able to bend the wood prior to staining but after staining it snapped when I tried to bend it.

    Perhaps staining after it’s constructed is a better idea.

  • I’ve been wanting to work on this project for two weeks now cannot find the wood in that exact measurement. I’ve been to Michael’s and 3 other art supply stores. Any suggestions??

  • Is there a specific kind of balsa to use or not to use? I’ve tried about three different times and it keeps snapping in half. :(

  • I would recommend steam bending the wood to make sure it doesn’t snap. Try holding the wood over a pot of boiling water for a while, then bending it REALLY slowly (still over the steam) into the shape you want.

  • it seems like there were a lot of people who wanted to make this project, but not a lot of feedback or help? i’ve had this pinned for years and have been really wanting to make it. i can’t seem to find the wood either. a source would be helpful? thanks!

  • I definitely have to do this. I have veneer stripes at home, and it will work great, as well. If you like it, too you can try it with a hot glue gun and it is pretty easy. Another pro is that you can select the color from a quite wide range.

    • I used 2″ birch veneer banding with adhesive from Amazon. First I tried ironing two veneer strips glue sides together. There was too much adhesive and it bleed leaving an ugly residue on both sides of the veneer. So I used heavy white paper and ironed it to the veneer strip. I cut the paper wider by 1/2″ and trimmed it with scissors afterward. Then follow the directions and fold and glue. The veneer and paper combo is very flexible. You could even use fabric for the inside.