Tsunami Nebula Pens

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Project by Tennessee posted 02-06-2016 01:35 AM 967 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A lot of you guys know me – I never go for the usual…

Between my major efforts in getting the next guitar out, and satisfying my gallery with 12-15 items for sale on its grand reopening, I managed to stumble across a pen style that I believe is unique.

It was a bit of bad luck, recovery, and discovery that I had an artistry effort underway if I pursued it to the end. Now, I have two completed, with five more blanks of which I believe four are usable.

Then, I have to start the process over again, hoping that I can remember my mistakes and efforts to recreate these unique pens.

I call them Tsunami Nebulas, after my guitar company, and the fact that when you hold one you feel like you are holding a bit of outer space, a nebula, which is a cloud of dust, gases, and space particles. They are like holding a bit of outer space, a nebula cloud.

So far I have managed to create two. They are hard, since the blanks are not pure, but full of gases, bubbles, and miscued acrylic. But they are salvagable, and when complete, they are just something to hold and wonder at. New hours in my shop, after 5PM, when I have been in there since 8AM that morning, and my wife is finally being tested to her tolerance – until she held one of these…

I showed one to my gallery manager, and he held it up to the sun, in his hand, commenting he had never seen anything like it. He has a top notch pen guy, and I am trying to encroach on that territory. He knows that. He gave it back to me, understanding that I would sell it on my own, not in the gallery. He took it back from me again, rubbed his fingers over the uneven surface, put it to the light again, rotating it. I knew he wanted it in his gallery. You have to look at one for a while before you see it all.

So how did I do this crazy thing that will probably be poo-pooed by the traditional straight line no fault pen folk?

Banksia pod was put into an oven at 125F for one hour to remove most, but not all of the moisture.
I poured Banksia Pod pieces into a mold, with blue, green and yellow tinted Alumilite water clear. It was a little over 3/4” deep, about 5” by 5”.
I took the mold out of the pressure pot at the 4.5 hour mark, before it was fully cured. Ambient was about 60-65F.
At that point, I could see the bubbles starting to form from the Banksia while holding the piece in my hand. I took it to the oven again at 125F for another hour, to stop the gassing and try and hold the 5” by 5” by 7/8” piece. It did deform somewhat, and gain in size due to the gassing.

After one hour, and with some reshaping of the acrylic block by its own accord, I had a stabilized block.
From that, I recovered seven pieces, 3/4” by 3/4” by 5”, give or take. I think maybe five of them for sure I can make pens out of.

At this point, there is a lot of unnecessary bubbles around the Banksia, withing the acrylic. When you turn it, those bubbles must be filled with CA, but are part of the unique look of this pen.
Also, some of the Banksia will try to chip off since it is surrounded by some air, and in one case, I had to rebuild the wood with sawdust around the lathe and CA.

When all said and done, averaging 3-4 hours per pen on the lathe, these two are what I have come up with.

FYI, the kits are simple Woodcraft Slimline pen kits, which I slightly modify to make them easy to pull apart and put together again if you have to change the refill. Otherwise, they are completely usable writing instruments.

I am hoping I can sell them as something very unique, while keeping my guitar business in full force. We’ll see.
If you think you can copy this, feel free!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

3 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8706 posts in 3012 days

#1 posted 02-06-2016 01:49 AM


Great art. How does it fit in your hand to write? :<) Hope you got the other stuff finished???? LOL! Have you figured out how to sign them once you have the process reduced to be more efficient?

Do you need a therapist???? LOL! Maybe I shouldn’t laugh?



-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Tennessee's profile


2886 posts in 2684 days

#2 posted 02-07-2016 12:47 PM

I started these AFTER I had the gallery totally stocked. Whew, he kept asking for things. Also included a wine rack that they used in their annual “Grape Escape” evening, where you get dinner and wine tasting, followed by a silent auction featuring local artists. I donated a four bottle, four glass wine rack that was basically four pieces of cherry, that I wanted about $75 for. He told me it sold for $120 in the evening setting, so good for them.

My guitars are healthy, and one is in finishing. I am three behind, but I make them one at a time, so no worries. Just booked for a couple months.

In any case, these pens feel great in your hand. Slightly larger than a typical 7MM tube pen, they have a comfortable feel. I hope they sell well. Could be a great revenue stream. I showed one to the big time pen maker at my local Woodcraft, he was blown away and had a thousand questions on how I created it. Didn’t tell him all, of course!
And yes, go ahead and laugh, I must be nuts to take on another product!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DocSavage45's profile


8706 posts in 3012 days

#3 posted 02-07-2016 06:17 PM

Hey Paul,

I’m jealous! LOL! Have fun and make money too? Good for you sir!

My friend Marlo has been turning pens recently and he is making large body pens which seems to catch interest.

I’m doing a large practice box to work out the process. A friend requested a box with certain hardware and dimensions. I’ll use my prototype as a wall cabinet for tools, since I don’t have a functional need for a smaller box right now and my shop is full of “some day I’ll use this” construction materials.

It’s someday right now!

Have to do some dreaded repetitive credentialing paperwork, before shop time.



Were all a little nuts. Just be a flexible nut? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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