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Experiment - Making Buckeye Black and Blue.....I hope

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Burl Source

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Buckeye grows some pretty cool burls, but what makes the wood really dramatic is the black and blue coloring.
But........it doesn't always look that way.
When you first cut Buckeye it is a white/gold color.
The coloring that develops is a fungus that can grow in the wood under the right conditions.
Usually you just leave the whole burl sit for a couple years.
Then you cut it up and see what you have.

With this Buckeye I am trying something different.
Here I have a 300 pound burl that I have cut into 3 manageable pieces.
They are in black garbage bags to keep them from drying out and to give the fungus good conditions to get started.



Buckeye burl usually has bigger burl points and a lot of voids with bark and dirt pockets.
This burl was the best my supplier had in his wood yard. I picked through all and settled on this one.
Very compact burl covering the entire piece. This may be the best one from this year's harvest.




Here you can see the start of some of the fungus. Looks a lot like mushroom mycelium. (spelled wrong)



When the weather warms up over 70f I will let these pieces cook in the bags for a couple weeks.
After that I will cut them into slabs and try 2 different methods to turbo charge the coloring.
One method is with corn meal covering the wood with the slabs flat on top of each other. This is supposed to give the nice blue coloring.

The second method is the same except you coat the faces of the slab with mayonaise.
This is supposed to give the darker black coloring.

Supposedly they will be colored up within a month and ready for drying and stabilizing.
I don't know how well this will work because I have never tried it before.
These methods are like seeing bigfoot.
You never get to talk directly to someone who has done it.
You talk to someone who knows someone who talked to someone who did it with great results.

I will make posts in this thread as the buckeye experiment continues.
This should go into a category of useless info, but possibly a little bit interesting........or not.
I love having my own subforum where I can post my ramblings without getting into trouble for making inappropriate posts.
 

Crothcipt

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Lol love experiments like this. Hope it goes as well as you think it will.
 

TB_London

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Tried unsuccessfully to spalt some beech years ago so will be watching this with interest. Did you wet the wood before you bagged it?
 

Burl Source

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I didn't wet it. It was still green. Cut about 1 month earlier. Still had a moisture content over 30%.
I was just told another method with buckeye using beer. I was told it has to be German Beer though.
I might try that as well.
 

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Today I pulled out the smallest chunk to see how it was coming along.
This is about a 70lb chunk of the burl.
Looking pretty good on the outside in a moldy sort of way.


I will be using the meat cutter band saw to cut into oversized pieces.


This is the first slab I cut. The reason why you don't see a lot of eyes is because I cut the slab extra thick to make the cut surfaces become the edges of the blocks. When I cut again I will make cuts parallel to the outer surfaces of the burl so it will show the eyes on the faces of the blocks.


This is all the cutting I will do at this phase of the experiment.



The wood is still good and moist. Still over 20% moisture content.


Next I will get some cornmeal to try with this portion of the burl.
 

Burl Source

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Now for the corn meal.
I bought some organic cornmeal because I wasn't sure if the regular stuff might have chemicals that would inhibit the fungus growth.

Here I poured a layer of cornmeal and covered the 1st slab.


Now the rest of the pieces with cornmeal in between and covering everything.


Now I closed up the bag.


Now I will move it back in a sunny spot and let it sit and grow.
 

SpikeC

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Boy-howdy, I'll betcha that is going to get ripe by the time it's done!
 

Eamon Burke

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I bought some organic cornmeal because I wasn't sure if the regular stuff might have chemicals that would inhibit the fungus growth.
Sad but true. The things we feed ourselves.


How long you think it needs to sit??
 

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I have a friend in CA who harvests a lot of buckeye - he swears by yogurt and kefir to get the coloring. I'm excited to see how these turn out!
For this next batch I am going to try the yogurt treatment.
If it doesn't turn out I can always blame Aaron.

This piece is about double the size of the chunk I used for the cornmeal batch.
So I had one of the guys cut it into slabs on the pole mill.



Now for the yogurt.


I used a paint brush and painted on a thick coat of yogurt on both sides of the slabs.


I stacked the slabs face to face inside a couple black plastic bags.


Now I placed the bags in a spot where they will have exposure to sunlight for most of the day.
 

DeepCSweede

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Well, if the moisture content stays up in the cornmeal batch, you may end up with some burly whiskey!!
 

Burl Source

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Well, if the moisture content stays up in the cornmeal batch, you may end up with some burly whiskey!!
:shocked3:
I am afraid of what it will smell like not to mention how it would taste.
Sounds like you are a lot more adventurous than I would ever be.
 

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And it smells disgusting!
This is the corn meal batch.



Next I will scrape off the gunk and cut a piece to see what is inside.
 

Deckhand

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Ha ha can just imagine how disgusting it smells. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.
 

Burl Source

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When I cut a piece of the corn meal batch, not encouraging.
No new color inside.


Next I opened the yoghurt batch.
It was growing as well but did not have the bad smell like the corn meal.


When I cut it I saw some color starting to spread inside.
Looks kind of olive green right now. Who knows what it will evolve into.
 

99Limited

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Wouldn't this be something that would take years for any color to develop deep inside these pieces?
 

Burl Source

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Wouldn't this be something that would take years for any color to develop deep inside these pieces?
The natural method takes place over about a year or two.
I am trying to jump start things. It remains to be seen if I am successful.
 

Crothcipt

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Its been less than a mo. How much faster do you want it to go?
 

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Its been less than a mo. How much faster do you want it to go?
Now would be good.
I re-bagged everything and put them on a new pallet in a sunny spot.
I will try to leave them alone for another few weeks.
I left about 1/2 of the buckeye in a solid piece to allow it to run it's course the normal way.
 

Crothcipt

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Now would be good.
I re-bagged everything and put them on a new pallet in a sunny spot.
I will try to leave them alone for another few weeks.
I left about 1/2 of the buckeye in a solid piece to allow it to run it's course the normal way.
I figured you would say that. With something like this having it done in 6 mo. would seem right. But then I dropped out of Bio. and went to Chem.
 

Crothcipt

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Its been a couple of months. How goes this petri experiment?
 

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Here I pulled the tarp off the Buckeye to see how it is doing.

Pretty good looking on the outside.

Cut up one of the smaller pieces to see what is inside. Finally some blue!

Now I am covering it back up for another month or so. That way the blue can spread and get darker.
 

Crothcipt

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Yep about another 2 mo. and you will be whistling blue river.:ubersexy:
 
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