Resin Cast Potpourri Grade Botanicals Pen Blanks
Over the past few months we have been experimenting with casting various potpourri grade botanical pen blanks using dyed Alumilite resin. Our first blanks used #1 Grade Lavender flowers cast in a violet resin. Great thing about Alumilite is that it doesn’t mask the aroma of the lavender.
Anecdotally, while cutting block of lavender casts this spring I was suddenly surrounded by dozens of honey bees attracted by the scent of lavender. Since then we have added chamomile, hibiscus, miniature chrysanthemum flowers, and lemon and orange peel. Each botanical presents its own unique attributes and at times turning challenges.
We recommend that for all of our botanical blanks that you use both painted tubes and reverse paint the inside of the blank after drilling. For this process I use a spray lacquer such as Krylon ™ available pretty much everywhere. Clean
the brass tubes with lacquer cleaner and apply a thin coat of lacquer. Most times I use either white or black depending on the transparency of the blank and the effect I’m trying to achieve.
While the tubes are drying spray a small amount of lacquer into a small plastic cup. While the lacquer is still wet I take a Q-Tip and use it to paint the inside of the hole drilled in the blank. Set both the blank and the tube aside to dry
thoroughly before glueing. As to gluing the tubes in the blanks I exclusively use 5 minute epoxy, but that’s just me.
Turning Resin Cast Botanical Pen Blanks – Guidance
Resin cast botanical pen blanks can be a bit challenging to turn, but some basic understanding of casting elements and good turning technique can tame these tricky yet beautiful creations.
When stabilizing wood for turning the stabilizing resin penetrates the wood and in essence changes the structure of the blank from wood and air to wood and resin. Casting on the other hand is an encapsulation process. Each of the botanicals is encapsulated within the final blank, but generally resin does not penetrate or change the nature of the botanical. Depending on the botanical and it’s makeup, the final blank will most likely have small air pockets and the turner will need to have CA glue at the ready to fill small voids and prevent tearout as you approach final size and prior to the sanding process. This is especially true for small seeds, florets and soft petals such as rose and chrysanthemum.
Three tenets of woodturning are especially applicable here:
- Keep your tools very sharp as you approach final diameter
- Use light cuts like you would use on knarly burl or soft punky wood
- Turn a the highest lathe speed you are comfortable using
This is but a brief introduction to the spectacular world of resin cast botanical pen blanks. More is yet to come. If you would like to see more of the cast botanical blanks we offer, visit us at our Etsy store. Constructive comments are always welcome. Especially if you have an idea for a casting, color, style or botanical that we haven’t thought of so far.
Here is the link to our store The Wooden Quill on Etsy .
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