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!