Jun 07 2012

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Wooden Bookmark With Pressed Clover

Either my daughter and I are very lucky, or we discovered a patch of mutated clover. While waiting for the school bus, we’ve found about 10 four-leaf clovers and 2 five-leaf clovers in a 2 foot square patch. I’ve pressed every one of them and the question has been: “what should we do with them?” I’ve been thinking about making some wooden bookmarks for a while and I thought embedding a four-leaf clover in a bookmark would look cool. While it wasn’t the most difficult project, it did present some interesting problems and allowed me to test out some different techniques I’ve never used.

I cut the thin slice of wood from a walnut turning blank that needed to be squared up — wood that would have just normally gone to waste. I was shooting for 0.050″ thick, but ended up with a slice 0.060″ thick instead. After sanding out the kerf marks, I actually got pretty close to my goal. I also noticed later, that the turning blank wasn’t perfectly square, so the top of the bookmark is actually 1/8″ wider than the bottom, that’s why the picture looks like it was taken at an angle.

Having never glued plant matter to wood before I wasn’t sure if I should glue the clover directly to the wood or finish the wood first. I was concerned about the large pores in the walnut “telegraphing” through the clover if I glued it directly to the wood. I also wasn’t sure if the clover and walnut would react with each other and degrade the over time. To address these issues, I decided to finish the walnut first. I wiped on one coat of urethane, then I wet sanded the next two coats with 200 and 300 grit to try and fill some of the pores. This left me with a pretty smooth surface to glue the clover to.

I tried test placing the clover on the bookmark and decided that it needed something more. So I had my wife cut out “GOOD LUCK” on her Cricut and make it into a sticker with her sticker maker. After deciding on the layout that looked best, I applied the words to the book mark. Then I applied Elmers spray adhesive to the back of the clover and left it dry for 5 minutes before sticking the clover onto the bookmark.

To seal in the letters and the clover I decided to use some Defthane spray gloss polyurethane. While the poly covered the clover in a few coats it took about 5 coats before the paper letters were saturated enough to start getting glossy and build up a finish. I ended up applying about 7 or eight coats to the front and one coat to the back. I figured that since I had already finished the back with 3 coats of urethane, that I didn’t need to worry about it.

The bookmark turned out a little glossier than I wanted, but it actually looks better in reality than it does in the pictures I’ve tried taking. I’ve found that it’s really hard to get an accurate picture of a glossy surface. Next time I do something like this I’ll see ifI can pick up a can of Semi-gloss instead.

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