Homemade Heather Gems

Homemade Heather Gems

When most people clean up dead branches in one’s yard, they don’t think to themselves, “Hey, if I laboriously strip off the bark of these, submerge them in colored stabilizing resin, then combine them with more resin, I could then turn them into some sweet handles!” But then again, Peter is thankfully not most people!

He was inspired to make his take on “Heather Gems”.

After collecting said branches and giving them a healthy amount of time to fully dry out, Peter begins to unbark, debarkify, disembark the twigs in order for them be as absorbent as possible. 

Using a box cutter and some sort of clamped saw blade, Peter makes short work and a giant mess out of the bark.

Once all of the twigs were of a pretty uniform thickness and length, he submerges them in colored stabilizing resin of the RGB variety. When using stabilizing resin, it is critical that the workpieces are subjected to a vacuum in order to suck all of the air out which is then replaced by the liquid resin. When the resin is then cured, it solidifies and stabilizes the wood from the inside out.

Because the wood is buoyant, it needed to be weighted down to keep it fully submerged. Peter noticed a couple of pieces were still sticking out of the liquid, so after a couple of hours, he flipped them over and tried to at least get some uniform coverage.

After a colorful bath, the pieces were then removed and placed into a toaster oven in order to complete the resin’s curing process. 

Just when you thought that we were done with resin in this project, Peter placed bundles of the resin imb-hued sticks into two separate containers and poured in a different type of resin! 

Here he used some fine Total Boat High Performance Epoxy Resin to bind the bundles together.  In one container he used the default clear resin, while in the other he added some ground charcoal powder to naturally pigment the resin to a dark black fluid. 

In the source project video, Peter referenced how Tasha Yar would not be a fan due to the nature of her demise in Star Trek: TNG. If this reference requires even more explanation, I cannot help you. 

Once the work pieces were fully cured, they were mounted on the lathe to begin the shaping process.  Using various Easy Wood Tools, Peter made quick work to hone in on his desired shape, which in this case were bottle stopper handles.  Once the shape was established, it was on to his favorite step in the majority of Peter’s projects, sanding! 

I personally cannot stand the stuff, as I find it so coarse and irritating! As Peter works up the various grit levels and finally MicroMesh, the final result of all of his hard work can be seen!  While the end product differed from the original source of inspiration, it became clear that they were interesting and beautiful in their own right.