Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Who's got time for class?

Fall classes start next week. Dang. I've really been enjoying my time in the workshop ...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dye and Stabilize Part II

A blog post ago, I showed images of stabilizing a holly blank with blue Cactus Juice (tm). Here are more images from that piece, which the client ordered today!

On the lathe now, the blank gets roughed to approximate shape.

Then it's sanded up to 800 grit.

I realized that the dye hadn't darkened the wood to the shade the client wanted, so I applied the dye directly to the blank and let it cure.

Here I drew out a sketch in pencil in preparation for the pyrography. I wood burned the requested design in by hand, then followed it up with ink to increase the contrast in the dark blue wood. I sanded it again afterwords at 600 and 800 grit, which helped the dye blend with the wood grain without affecting the pyrography.

Nine layers of durable cyanoacrylate cover the image, shown here before buffing and polishing.

After buffing and polishing, I lay out all the parts in preparation for assembly.

I apply the parts to the wood using a pen press. This pen receives identical couplers to either end, to which the nib and tail screw.

With the spring and ink cartridge installed, this pen is ready to write.

And here's the finished pen (shown upside-down, but will be right-ways up when you write).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Glow in the dark pens - start to finish

A client recently contacted me to have some custom pens made, which I was happy to do. She had found herself the proud owner of two glow in the dark pen blanks, which, if you don't actually make pens, are pretty useless by themselves.

She mailed them off to me and chose the settings. Once I had everything I needed, I started working on her order. Here's an abbreviated photo-journal of making her order. I hope you enjoy it!

Blanks cut to size and laid out with their respective kits.

The blanks are drilled to accommodate the brass tubes.

Brass tubes glued in place.

Edges are sanded off. 

The turning begins!

Turning continues ...

Now the drudgery. Sanding.

Buffed and polished, the parts are all laid out for assembly

And here they are!

Dye and stabilize images

Another client asked for a custom pen as a gift for her husband, a new Marine Corps Drill Instructor (Semper Fi). Here are some images documenting the dying and stabilizing process.

She chose a magnetic Vertex setting for the wood. Since she wants blue wood, we start with pure white holly, which must be dyed and stabilized. Here I mark the holly for cutting to length.

Here the wood has been drilled and the brass tube glued in place (for drilling images, see previous walk-throughs). I will use TurnTex Woodwork's Cactus Juice for stabilization. This is a great product that is fairly easy to use and very effective at stabilizing and dying wood with excellent results.

The Cactus Juice comes clear, so must be dyed. Here I am adding drops of Allumilite blue dye that adds a rich, deep blue hue. Please ignore the gut in the background.

I went ahead and put both halves of the holly in the Cactus Juice. I don't have an order for the other piece, but I'm sure I can find a use for it! After insertion, I use an iron weight to ensure the wood remains fully submerged in the juice.

Now the jar goes into a vacuum chamber where it will endure -30 psi, drawing out the microscopic air bubbles trapped in the wood and drawing in dyed Cactus Juice in its place.

It's amazing how much air is in a "solid" piece of wood. It foams up like crazy blue beer! I actually have to release the vacuum periodically to keep the juice from overflowing, it foams up so much. I will continue and repeat this process until no more bubbles appear. Then I'll let the wood continue to soak in the juice overnight.

It's the next day. I'm kind of girly and don't like to get dye and Cactus Juice on my fingers. That dye takes FOREVER to come off your skin (some things you learn the hard way...). Making it worse, the wood is kind of slippery at this point. So now it gets wrapped in aluminum foil and baked. The heat will solidify the Cactus Juice.

And here's the stabilized blue holly blank, just about ready for the lathe!

Judith Beheading Holofernes

This is an old post. Just found it in drafts. Can't imagine why I didn't publish it... Written sometime last year:

I've always loved Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes. To me this piece has always stood for the hidden strength of women, for courage in the face of certain death, for faith in self and the belief that the Lord helps those who take the initiative.

Starting, I also knew I was biting off more than I could chew.

But if I don’t challenge myself, I’ll never improve. After a lot of time and effort and pain, I finally decided the piece was finished.

I hope you like it!