Some time back, members of the Wanapam tribe, here in North Central Washington, bought a couple of my walking sticks. As well, they expressed interest in a unique one I’m currently working on.
Meanwhile, the Wanapams opened are really nice interpretive center, which I had the pleasure of touring. In the course of that tour, I saw many photographs of work being done on hides, dug outs, various activities and so on.
The visit to the Center inspired to create some of the things I saw being used. For example:
1) I made a couple handles and installed them on a heavy planer blade to create a draw knife like scraper for working hides.
2) I made a heavy mallet from beautiful, figured sycamore, for tending detail work on dug outs.
Since I added wood tuning to my many passions and since I was thinking along the lines of things locals might use or be interested in, my latest flitterings resulted in a prototype rattle, the inspiration for this blog.
When done, the rattle was a bit plain and, perhaps, too “Moroccan.” Because of that, I hand carved a design into it, with the idea I’d fill the carved portion with something.
On a whim, I:
1) bought some colored powders folks use to embellish embossed cards;
2) crushed up some oyster shells;
3) mixed some two to one epoxy and added the [turquoise colored] powder and crushed shell; and,
4) I pushed the mix into the carvings.
Once dried, I could have used the result as a [really ugly, but colorful] rasp. However, after sanding the hardened mix back down flush with wood (the carvings were nearly one eighth inch deep), starting with 120 grit and stopping with 320, then taking the rattle to the buffer, the potential of the simple mix began to become apparent.
In just seconds, the oyster shell polished to a pearl like finish. With the large and small flecks of shell and the turquoise powder suspended in clear epoxy, the hardened mix might pass for some type of turquoise.
Because the rattle is round and the two to one epoxy mix flows, I am forced to do only a little at a time, or the mix flows back out of the carved areas, even with the powder and shell mixed in.
If I did much of this on round surfaces, I might have to consider a rotisserie or similar to, slowly, turn the project, to keep the slowly flowing mix in place, such as is done when building fishing poles.
In the end, I like the result enough I’ll try this for other projects. Depending on the application, some, like this, might have a crude, hand carved appearance. On the other hand, others might have dados filled with this or other more carefully placed cut lines to produce crisp, parallel edges.
Yesterday, visiting a friend, I noted he had a large rock, which had a lot of yellow (like sulfur), in it. It was crumbling, so I picked up a few pieces, took them back to the shop and crushed the pieces between a couple pieces of iron rod (one was 2”x6” and the other 1-1/4” by 6”). Today, I’ll mix a little with epoxy and see how it looks in a fill.
I’ll add more photos in a couple days, after I’ve filled, sanded and polished all the carvings. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch the contrast of the pearl like shell against the faux turquoise-epoxy filler.
Give the process a test.