New Driftwood Design- Humpback Whale Tail

7 Materials
8 Hours

I'm a beach comber and I'm also a creative therefore when you mix the two you never know what I'll come up with! Plus I always love to try something new and unique which lead me to attempt making a whale tail with small driftwood pieces that I had previously collected.


I got the opportunity to go whale watching and I even can sometimes watch them from the shoreline in the Summer. I'll often see their tail in the air like this as they plunge down for their next dive. I have a great respect and love of whales therefore my two loves of ocean life and crafting merged for this project.


I have created hearts, starfish and other items in the past with driftwood and learned that a heavy duty cardboard is a great item to glue the small wood pieces onto. Luckily for me I bought some new chairs and mercy me I was as excited over the cardboard as I was the chairs! I read a quote that has me written all over it, " I don't think outside of the box, I think of what I'll make with the box!" Anyhow back to the task at hand, I just drew a tail outline onto the cardboard free hand after practicing with drawing a few on some paper first.

Template Backing Ready

I carefully cut out the tail with a heavy duty utility knife, the larger one seen here in the photo. I'll be using Aleenes Tacky Glue to attach the wood pieces to the cardboard backing.

Hanger Placement

Find the center of the tail, mine was about 24" wide at the top so center was 12". At that mark I put a couple of small holes on either side to insert some jute string. It's nothing fancy but it works, tie the ends of it on the front side before puzzle piecing begins. It will all be concealed on the front with the driftwood, trust me.

Fit and Glue

Its much like putting together a puzzle, take a piece then wiggle and twist it until you find a good fit and glue it in place. The smaller the pieces the better it is for this project, you don't want thick bulk just good cardboard coverage. This glue dries clear so it's fine if some of it oozes out from the joins.

Fine Tuning

This is "not" a necessary step but for me I wanted the fits to be almost perfect so I would shave and cut some of the joins to fit the curves better or make them lock tight into a spot. But in the past I didn't attempt this step and the projects were fine, because the varied colors and textures of the wood conceal the imperfect joins. This was just a step up challenge for me using the utility knives and a wooden cutting board.

Continue Filling In

I worked at this project a little section at a time, making sure to give my eyes, back and neck a rest between sittings. Too, when you step away and come back to any project it gives you a fresh perspective to examine and maybe tweak the progress.

Completed Natural Look

Here is the finished product, you'll notice the jute hanger is well concealed underneath the driftwood like I predicted. Its lightweight because of the cardboard backing, pretty cool huh?

Addictive Craft

Did I mention it's a little addictive like doing puzzles? I wanted a taller one this time and since it was fun, easy and relaxing why not make another one?


Do you see the pattern and coloring on the underside of the tail? No two are alike it's a means that researchers use to identify individual whales. That got me to thinking and wondering...about my whale tail, could I make it more realistic?

Chalk Paint Stain

Why yes, yes I can make it more realistic, I'll stain the wood!! Coffee always brings about the best ideas! So just using an artist's brush, chalk board paint and water I made a stain to wash over the areas I wanted black. I did the same with white chalk paint for the part I wanted white, remember no two tails are alike so you can't mess this up!

Completed Stained Look

How do ya like me now? I love... but I realize the naturalists are screaming at me now.

Side by Side Comparison

It's up to each individual how they see and prefer things but for me this was a fresh alternative to all of those previous driftwood projects that I created and left natural.

Black and White Color Scheme

The main reason that I stained it? We are going with a mostly black and white color scheme throughout our home and wanted some new wall decor that still had a nautical theme and a sense of home. I'm super pleased with both tails but I am keeping the stained one for myself. Thank you always for taking the time to pop in and see what we are up to, until the next project stay safe and stay well.

Added Bonus

Just to spark another idea for you maybe, this ships wheel is just your mass produced Dollarstore find but I'll show you how I made it mine!

Sleek Update

The rope was all removed, black chalkboard paint and a little silver craft paint to accent it, the center metal round? A curtain grommet that I recycled, it fit perfectly and made the wheel a little more realistic!

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4 of 6 comments
  • Frances Anderson
    Frances Anderson
    on Nov 3, 2020

    Many thanks even reading your article was fun I loved the box saying it's me too lol thank you for using the cardboard I gather drift wood but wasn't sure how to make it work in a pattern. Lovely ideas

  • Bonnie Bowness
    Bonnie Bowness
    on Nov 3, 2020

    Greetings my friend, Thank you very much for posting your beautiful projects. I really love what you have done with the drift wood and your ships wheel. I find any thing from the water or woods so attractive to make great crafts. Stained or natural its all great. We have such beautiful items in our own properties that get over looked by most and I think any thing made from them is so beautiful. Awesome post. CHEERS!!!!!Bonnie

    • Skilled Thrifty Creatives
      Skilled Thrifty Creatives
      on Nov 3, 2020

      Thank you, thank you so very much and I agree, I love to add natural elements inside my home whether it's a twig, driftwood, sand or even rocks! It brings the beauty outside into my home for us to enjoy all year round.

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