I learned this technique from a guest blogger over at The Wood Connection. I've done something similar, but you get the same look with much less time and much less elbow grease with this new secret ingredient. I was amazed at how well it worked!
I'm not good at step by step tutorials, because I don't like explaining a lot of details and I never remember to take pictures of each step, but this was easy enough that you can probably figure it out with what I offer.
All my supplies are from The Wood Connection. They sell plaques in just about every size, and they sell the candle sticks and finials in a couple different sizes too. So you can make yours as big and tall as you want. I almost did mine as a 2 tier, but I decided to add the 3rd. I think my plaques are 5", 7" and 9". And each item I used ranges between $1 and $3-ish.
First I did dark brown streaks here and there on each plaque, no need to be super careful on this step. I did the same thing on the candle sticks and finial, too. Let it dry for a few minutes, and then pull out your Vaseline. (crazy, right?!) Decide where you want the brown to show through and rub some Vaseline on those spots. When you finish that, paint your top coat. I did 2 coats of light ivory. The Vaseline keeps the top coat color from getting on the bottom color! Let the top coat dry really well.Then, I rubbed the Vaseline spots with a paper towel, just to get a little goo off. Then I sanded over the whole thing. The more sanding you do, the more bottom coat color you'll get and the more rustic it looks.When I was done sanding I just glued everything together with wood glue.I love how it turned out. I'm glad I didn't make it bigger, (I almost used 7, 9, and 11 inch boards) because this one holds about 4 dozen mini cupcakes, and I always make too much dessert when I'm hosting. This is plenty big!