Head Lice pen! (do I disinfect my lathe now?)

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Project by billculpepper posted 10-10-2011 03:20 PM 3548 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have an explanation…after nearly 10 years of research and regulatory work my company has recently received registration for a prescription strength medication to treat head lice in children. One of the researchers we worked with has perfected a method of “breeding” head lice that are resistant to the most common over the counter medication. In appreciation for his wok (and because I wanted to see if it could be done) I asked him to send me some of his lice (yes…they were dead and floating in alcohol) and I cast them in resin. Result – a pen with lice in it…possibly gross to some but to a researcher a symbol of their work. I hope he likes it.

There is a photo of the casting included. I attempted to make 2 pens but my first one exploded on lathe (photo also included). For this casting I used “pre-painted” tubes from woodturningz (mesa pen kit). I painted my own tubes once and the paint sort of “curdled” when it came in contact with the resin. That pen looked really cool but I did not want this pen to have that same texture. Whatever color (or pattern or paper photo) surrounds the tube really “fills up” the pen once it is turned and polished, which is why this pen looks “solid white” when the resin is actually clear and only the brass tube is white.

I found the lice “really shifted around” when the mold was poured and many floated to the surface of the mold (and are now…well…in my DC….). I did not want to “superglue” the lice to the tube as I thought the glue may be visible, but if I do this again I will try that to get a better dispersion of the objects around the tube.

-- Bill Culpepper, Indiana

17 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3824 days

#1 posted 10-10-2011 03:23 PM

Well, for what it’s worth, I think it’s pretty cool. I was creeped out at first, wondering how you got head lice to put in a pen, but after reading the explanation, I think it’s pretty awesome! Good job!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View woodzy's profile


418 posts in 2707 days

#2 posted 10-10-2011 03:27 PM

Cool !!
But are you telling me that someone is activley trying to breed head lice that are RESISTANT to the most common over the counter drugs?


-- Anthony

View billculpepper's profile


66 posts in 2992 days

#3 posted 10-10-2011 03:35 PM

Good question! Just like bacteria with antibiotics, insects can become resistant to the medications which are used on them for decades. The reason they are bred/studied in a laboratory setting is so newer, safer, more efficacious medicines can be developed to control them. Unfortunately, head lice have become resistant to the most common OTC products sold today.This researcher didn’t “create them”, he just harvested them from the population and uses them for studies.

Two of the more common medicines still used in the U.S. today are not used at all in the UK due to the resistance issue. Our children brought head lice home from school 2 years ago and I wish our product had been finished then! ugh! So difficult to have to comb out all those nits and treat over a period of weeks!

-- Bill Culpepper, Indiana

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#4 posted 10-10-2011 04:23 PM

Cool!! Gross but cool :^)

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2989 days

#5 posted 10-10-2011 04:48 PM

1. They can use the resistant lice to formulate medications to which they are NOT resistant.
2. The best thing to get rid of lice on kids is a small ballpeen hammer. lol

View Jeffrey Alexander's profile

Jeffrey Alexander

113 posts in 2720 days

#6 posted 10-10-2011 05:23 PM

Cool! I’m sure some entomologists (bug people) would love this novelty. Mankind needs a better flea chaser for their pets, so, how about one done in fleas?

-- "--Build Beauty to leave to those who appreciated it , not to ungrateful kids..."

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20600 posts in 3133 days

#7 posted 10-10-2011 06:26 PM

You have to be a bugger to like it!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3554 days

#8 posted 10-10-2011 06:28 PM

really gross, but really cool. It would be fun to do other bugs as well, have a creepy crawly line of pens.

View klassenl's profile


185 posts in 2687 days

#9 posted 10-10-2011 06:40 PM

Can you give some more explanation about your resin? Where is comes from, how you can “cast” it and how you can machine it. I can think of a few other uses for it.

-- When questioned about using glue on a garbage bin I responded, "Wood working is about good technique and lots of glue........I have the glue part down."

View billculpepper's profile


66 posts in 2992 days

#10 posted 10-10-2011 06:47 PM

This is the casting kit I used:

Further searching on-line provides a less expensive route to go if you choose to do this and do it in bulk, but this is a good kit to get started and see if you like it. I have done one other casting (attaching two different types of pellets, products my Father started his company with, to two different sides of a Cigar-style pen for a father’s day gift…he loved it).

Directions with the kit were easy to follow. I had to be a lot more “dainty” with the bugs because they could “squish”, but in general, you can just CA glue objects to the tube. You will want to do this in a well ventilated area. I let it set for a couple of days before I cut the tubes out and then you turn on a lathe just like you would an acrylic pen. I use a sander on the “corners” of the blank to bring it round before putting it on the lathe and then use a sharp skew. Sanded from 100 – 600 then micromesh to 12,000 then used Novus polish.

-- Bill Culpepper, Indiana

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3676 days

#11 posted 10-10-2011 06:55 PM

cool idea. I’m sure he’ll cherish this pen

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2721 days

#12 posted 10-10-2011 07:04 PM

That’s awesome! He’s going to love it!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View MadJester's profile


2065 posts in 2458 days

#13 posted 10-11-2011 01:04 AM

Just an idea…what if you tried to use some CA glue to adhere the bugs to the pen blank first, then used the resin to encapsulate the whole thing…just to keep them in place? I think it’s a little odd, but very neat…I used the CA glue to fill a trench I made in a small turning with crushed rocks…gave it a nice accent and the CA glue polished up just fine….I used lacquer for a finish coat, but only because I know that it sticks to most everything….

-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3078 days

#14 posted 10-11-2011 01:54 AM

that is great I am sure he will love it.
You should try it with other stuff too

-- Theresa,

View James Frederick's profile

James Frederick

175 posts in 3748 days

#15 posted 10-18-2011 12:14 AM

That really is cool, well done

-- Change begins somewhere may as well be with me.

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