Crafty Walking Sticks
I came across my first cane by luck. It was a branch apparently blown off of a tree during a wind storm. After a certain length of time on the ground, the bark had come loose and kindly removed itself when I picked up the branch. All I had to do was sand it a bit and decorate. A hike through the woods will most likely turn up many such sticks that are straight enough to use.
Outside of the woods, a hardware or homebuilding supply store are good places to shop. I bought dowels and lengths of PVC pipe, but usually the pipe is not sturdy enough to support your full weight when walking. A one-inch dowel is terrific. A one-inch solid Lucite stick is great too, but it must be solid. A tube of Lucite isn't strong enough. Many stores will usually cut these dowels to length for you.
At the hardware store or home center, you can also find PVC and copper fittings including straight, curved, and T-shaped pieces. The idea is to look around and experiment. For a round handle, an old tennis ball is perfect. Make star-shaped cuts in the ball, and push it onto a dowel. If you are meticulous with your cutting, you can make it such a snug fit that it will not come off in your hand, and will be almost impossible to pull off at all.
For all homemade canes, you will also need a rubber tip if you intend to use it any place besides walking in the woods. These tips are usually available in pharmacies, medical supply stores, and hardware stores.
The length of your walking stick or cane is a personal preference. For instance, if you will be using it as a hiking aid, it can be as much as a foot or two taller than you as long as it's not too heavy. If you are using it as a fashion accessory, it can be whatever length is comfortable. If you need if for medical reasons, however, first check with your doctor or therapist since there is a definite length it should be for your particular height and/or condition.
Decorating & Assembly Suggestions
Paint dowel navy blue and decorate with stars drawn with a gold or copper ink pen. The handle is a short length of dowel decorated like the cane, and attached to the cane with a curved copper fitting. Another piece of curved copper fitting is put on the end of the handle.
Coat dowel with Mod Podge or Anita's Decoupage Finish and cover with torn pieces of paper napkin (top layer only) or decorative tissue paper. When dry, coat with another protective layer of acrylic finish.
Coat dowel with Mod Podge or Anita's Decoupage Finish and wrap entire dowel with decorative gift wrapping paper. Coat with the acrylic finish. A PVC joiner shaped like the copper fitting can also be covered with the gift wrap paper and slipped over the end of the decorated dowel. The stem of a brass doorknob fit perfectly inside the joiner on my cane. I used a paper that had a good amount of gold in the pattern, so the brass doorknob also coordinated perfectly. An alternate choice would be to use a paper-covered tennis ball as a handle so the joiner is not necessary.
Cover entire wooden dowel with gold or copper leaf according to the directions on the package. Seal with leaf sealer. A copper fitting and brass doorknob serve as the handle.
Use a length of clear Lucite with a copper fitting and a brass door knob as the handle.
Wood-burn many lines and designs on wooden dowel. Repeat on a short (approximately five inches) length of dowel for handle. Color in with colored markers. I used the same colored pens I use for rubber stamping. Saw handle and nail or screw to top of cane.
After sanding the tree branch, I painted it with red acrylic paint, then added polka dots, squares, and triangles with paint pens. I put polka dots in the middle of many of the shapes and received many compliments. A few folks thought I had purchased it in Mexico!
For easier handling, add a hanging cord by drilling a hole in the cane just below the handle. Pull a leather strip, twisted cord, or shoelace through the opening, and tie into a loop.