Driftwood Fish

We’re headed to the beach again this weekend, so I was in the mood to get out the driftwood pieces from our last trip and paint them.  I ended up using non-toxic paint pens (Painters Opaque Paint Markers by Elmer’s), which made it really fast and easy.  It’s amazing how much fun a bunch of wood and rocks can be.  We had a great time arranging them, making different scenes.  Then I found an old wooden box to store them.  We’ll have to get some more driftwood this weekend!


  1. Unni Strand
    May 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    So lovely!

  2. Mother Lode
    May 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    These are great Joel!

  3. Lise
    May 21, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Oh, my gosh...I swear, I fall in love with every thing you make! I'm headed to the beach on Sunday, and now I'll be looking for fishy driftwood. Thank you for all the inspiration.

  4. Gwynneth Beasley
    May 22, 2010 at 1:57 am

    OMG - wow - I just found your blog through a twitter link - it is all so fabulous - I cant wait to read it slowly tonight!

  5. medina family
    May 22, 2010 at 2:30 am

    so glad I found your blog! You're brilliant. Can't wait to try all your ideas. The kids are already coloring the paper city.

  6. Joel Henriques
    May 22, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Thank you everybody! Yeah, this driftwood thing turned out to be even more fun than I was expecting. Nice!

    Gwynneth Beasley & medina family - Thanks! Glad you found my blog!

  7. Make mine Mid-Century
    May 22, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Such simple ingenuity! Love it everytime.

  8. Gwynneth Beasley
    May 22, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Hi again - I've just read through the whole blog - I love your aesthetic - and I am really glad to hear you are writing a book! I've bought quite a few toy making books and they are usually really old fashioned or require serious woodworking or sewing skills. Your toys look a little simpler to make - hopefully not deceptively easy! Can't wait!

  9. Lori Henriques
    May 22, 2010 at 6:44 am

    wow, joel. again so beautiful, even down to the storage box. :) and your color choice as always is so pleasing. bon voyage! wish we were coming with you guys...

  10. Temps perdu
    May 22, 2010 at 10:57 am

    These are lovely. I can almost feel the soft surface of driftwood. Wishing you a plesant weekend, Nina

  11. barbara
    May 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I love your style so much. From the more complex to the more simple ideas, everything you do is art.

  12. Kickcan and Conkers
    May 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Fabulous - I love it! You are definitely in your element here - a born toymaker. You rock! (ha!ha!)

  13. Anonymous
    May 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I love your blog. We used to have a waterfall and pond in our backyard but took it out because of safety worries, but we kept a 'stream' full of rocks. These fish would look wonderful in the stream - can't wait to try it.

    A book of directions to make your toys would be wonderful!!

  14. Magda
    May 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Great idea! They look fantastic, I want some too:) Have a nice weekend:)

  15. Sofie
    May 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    just found your blog and would like to link to you on mine, hope it is ok I borrow a picture or two.
    all the best and thank you for good inspiration!

  16. Catherine Hansen Peart
    May 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    I just love absolutely everything you do. I will be looking for driftwood for our own little school of fish too. You make me try and think more simply about what I do with my own kids - great inspiration.

  17. Daan
    May 23, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Those are great. We'll do that in our summerbreak!

  18. Mary
    May 23, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Fantastic! They remind me of the LIttle Fish That Got Away. Did you ever read that story to your kids? Lovely, simple, early 60's aesthetic. It's by the author Harold and the Purple Crayon. Anyway, this looks like a great activity to with kids. (Maybe without the same minimalist results!) (Mary)

  19. Lucille
    May 23, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    You have an un-erring instinct and a lovely modest laid back approach to all you do.

  20. Amy
    May 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Joel, my 6 year old and I love your blog. We can always count on being inspired by your projects.
    So, I have a request for a post. Would you please put together a list of favorite things to do with the kiddos in Portland? Farms to visit, fun restaurants, hikes, craft stores......with summer coming up I would love for some new fresh ideas.

  21. * Ninotschka *
    May 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    The are beautiful! Pieces of art to play with - it cannot get any better.

  22. Joel Henriques
    May 25, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Thank you all. You are too kind!

    Mary - I have the book Harold and the Purple Crayon, but haven't seen The Little Fish That Got Away. I'll have to look for that one. Thanks!

    Amy - I wish I got out more. We end up going to a lot of the same places over and over. Daily Cafe in the Pearl. Jameson Square Park (has an awesome toddler friendly water feature to wade in), Powells Books, Lots of Parks (and free concerts in the parks during summer). I'll have to think on this some more.

  23. Oum_nawel
    May 27, 2010 at 7:48 am

    So lovely .........

  24. Gwen
    May 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Our son's wonderful pediatrician made "fish sticks" for our son at every visit--he drew a fish on a tongue depressor and gave it to him! He passed away last year, well into his 90's, and I wish I had saved at least one "fish stick"! Thanks for the memory!

  25. Joel Henriques
    May 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    That's a great story Gwen. Maybe someday you'll find one hidden somewhere in the house!

  26. Megan.K.
    June 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

    These are just so good!! Beautiful. We have a similar collection of beach pebbles, shells and drftwood - am off to turn them into fish!
    Oh, I am also loving the aquarium posted after this... Tomorrow could a fish day!
    Thank you for such inspiring ideas.

  27. Novi On The Go
    June 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

    These are lovely! I like the little red snake, the bulge of the wood looks right for the eye. Very creative and fun designs!

  28. Joel Henriques
    June 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm


    Novi On The Go - Yeah, the eye on that snake is actually a knot in the wood. I didn't paint it. Cool!

  29. Hiskia
    June 28, 2010 at 11:49 am

    you're a big inspiration: http://kleinezaken.blogspot.com/2010/05/kunst-voor-het-oprapen.html :)
    thanks! (hope you don't mind me using you're picture? if so please let me know!)

  30. Joel Henriques
    June 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks Hiskia!

  31. learning montessori
    August 23, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I love your toys.

  32. mer
    October 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    these are really great!

  33. May 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Seriously...one of the most creative, diverse artist I know. Please come guest post for me.

  34. May 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

    [...] Driftwood Fish – At the beach? Create some fun toys with driftwood and a paint pen. [...]

  35. June 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    [...] Driftwood Fish – Have fun gathering drift wood and rocks, then easily decorate them with some non-toxic paint pens. [...]

  36. August 5, 2011 at 2:54 am

    [...] Mireu quins peixos més di vertits  amb petits trossets de pals trobats a la platja… trobat a Made by Joel [...]

  37. Gesualdo
    December 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

    For extra fun with driftwood, take a magnifying glass to the beach. With a strong sun you can etch letters or fish or whatever into the wood very quickly. Feels a bit like writing with a laser.

    1. December 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Ooh, great idea! I burned my initials into my baseball glove like that when I was a kid. Cool!

  38. February 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

    [...] love to hear about your favorite beach activities too, so feel free to share them in the comments! Driftwood Fish – Have fun gathering drift wood and rocks, then easily decorate them with somenon-toxic paint [...]

  39. July 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    [...] DIY fish toys really rock. Just find some pebbles, driftwood, and non-toxic paint pens, and your kid will be [...]

  40. May 30, 2013 at 3:01 am

    [...] walk along a shore) be sure to pick up some little scraps of smooth driftwood. Joel from Made by Joel quickly decorated these little pieces using paint pens and found a home for them in a small wooden [...]

  41. August 12, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    [...] driftwood fish from made by joel [...]

Leave a Comment