Even My Blues Have The Blues and The Blues and The Blues

Today was my favorite kind of day the workshop, the kind when I get a chance to work with one of my favorite materials, Blue Box Elder. Before we go too deep down the rabbit hole, you should know that Blue Box Elder isn’t naturally blue. Other woods such as Purpleheart, Redheart, Yellowheart, and Pink Ivory get their names from the natural pigment in their heart wood; however, Box Elder is naturally golden brown, but it takes on color extremely well (as you can see) below. Here is a sample of three different pens using the same type of wood.

Dyed woods are fun to work with because you never know what you’re going to end up with or what is going to reveal itself (good AND bad). So, here’s out little baby Blue Box Elder blank…utterly saturated with deep shades of blue and just a hint of gold and green.

During the turning process, as we get closer to the center of the block, more of the natural wood is exposed and places where the dye couldn’t quite penetrate the wood create gorgeous textures and swirls. Often, though, a pen doesn’t get turned too much and we end up with a pen that is still (more or less) fully dyed.

Pens like this Water Dragon, still have varying shades of blue, but very little exposed natural wood color.

The Celtic Pen, which is tapered at the ends of the barrel has a little more variation and just a hint of the woods natural colors peeking through.

When it comes to a pen like Starry Night, which requires a lot of turning and a lot of sanding, we get an explosion of texture and variation. The tricky part is achieving the shape we want without losing some of the most interesting bits of wood showing through.

Which one is my favorite? 

Don't ask! 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published