Introduction: Glowing Mushroom Wooden Ring

I've intended to do a miniature version of my glowing mushroom night light for a long time. Life kept getting in the way.

Finally, a ring contest gave me an excuse to spend a few hours working on a project late at night (while the kids were asleep and I was too groggy to focus on all the paperwork I need to finish). I haven't created anything for fun in a long time.

Materials I used:

Maple burl with some bark attached
A finger light (containing an LED and three tiny batteries)
Polymer clay
Clay softener & liquid polymer clay
Strontium Aluminate glow powder
Shellac
Cyanoacrylate (superglue)

Step 1: Cut the Wood

I had a few different sketches of wood with mushrooms growing out of it in a ring, but I decided it was best to find a piece with bark attached. That would make the carving much less intensive. A place near us had a nice chunk of maple burl for really cheap, and the bark was firmly attached. There were other types of wood with interesting patterns, but the bark was flakier and less likely to stay intact through the ring making process.

I used a bandsaw to cut the slice of wood, then traced a ring that fit my finger to get the rough shape of the circle.

I soaked the bark with superglue before cutting, in order to prevent it from falling off the wood.

Please use safety precautions if you use a bandsaw, and keep your fingers far away from the cutting blade.

Step 2: Drill Holes

I used a forstner bit to drill the center hole in the ring. Burl can be weak in certain areas, so go slowly here. If you press too hard with the drill bit, the friction might heat up the wood enough to cause stress cracks.

Step 3: Choose Glow Stuff

I needed to choose between a white and a blue finger light, so I grabbed one of our vials of glow powder, which happened to be green. The blue light left a brighter glow in the powder than the white light, so I opted to use that LED for my ring.

I decided to also use blue glow powder with the blue LED.

I carefully pried open the finger light to get the batteries and LED out, also salvaging a scrap of metal to help connect the batteries in the ring (as you'll see in step 6).

Step 4: Carve Shape

Carving the outside shape of the ring is fun. I just used a couple different dremel bits to carve a freeform abstract shape in the top of the ring.

The inside cavity was a pain. I didn't want to cut the ring into more than one piece of wood, so I had to work at an angle, drilling a divet at first, then using a carving tip to hollow out enough space to fit the LED and batteries. I could've made the thing deeper to completely obscure the batteries, but that would've taken a whole lot more fussing than I cared to do, and the batteries aren't visible when I wear the ring.

Step 5: Drill Mushroom Holes

I used a small drill bit to drill holes in the top of the ring to mark where the mushrooms will go. I needed the light from the LED to shine through some translucent clay and hit the glow powder to really light it up.

I also sanded down the LED to make it fit in the hollow a bit better, and to diffuse the light.

Step 6: Fit the Insides

Do not bake batteries. That's dangerous.

I made a cylinder the size of the three batteries out of scrap polymer clay. I then filled the cavity of the ring with some translucent polymer clay. I bent the wires of the LED around the battery-sized cylinder so it would be able to make contact with the terminals, then baked the ring at 250 degrees F for about 15 minutes. I carefully pried out the cylinder of clay, then put the batteries in to make sure it lit up. One of the LED wires wasn't making very good contact, so I slipped in a small piece of metal I'd snipped from the original finger light, making sure it firmly touched the battery and the wire from the LED, then secured the edges of that with more clay before baking it again (without batteries).

If I were making this ring for someone other than me, I'd have added an actual switch and covered the batteries. For personal use, though, I just pry the batteries out when I'm done wearing the ring.

Step 7: Finish the Wood

I found one of our smoother dremel bits and got rid of the deeper scratches from carving the ring. I used sandpaper and then micromesh sanding pads on the main part of the ring. Nice wood like burl deserves high grit sandpaper.

I rubbed on a little shellac to bring out the natural sheen of the wood.

Step 8: Add the Mushrooms

Liquid polymer clay makes this part much easier. So do baby wipes. Surfaces should be clean when you're working with polymer clay (it picks up dust you can't see until it's covered in gray), and the water from the baby wipes helps keep it from sticking to surfaces and tools.

I squeezed a tiny drop of liquid clay into each of the holes in the ring. That allows the clay mushrooms to adhere much more easily, and helps them stay in place on the ring in case it gets bumped while you wear it.

I used blue strontium aluminate glow powder and translucent polymer clay for the glowing parts of the mushroom. A drop of clay softener made it easier to mix in the glow powder. At first I layered some other colors with the glowing translucent clay to make tan colored mushrooms, but I then decided I preferred bluish, unnatural looking mushrooms.

I layered some mica shift green and aqua polymer clay with the translucent clay, added some blue pigment, and flattened it to make striations. That was probably unnecessary, since the striations are really too small to see, especially with all the glow powder. I used Josh's UV flashlight to make sure the translucent clay had enough glow powder for my liking.

I made the mushrooms by rolling out a thin log of clay, cutting a short cylinder, then using a thin tool to make a pinched hourglass shape in the short cylinder. Then, I cut the hourglass at the thin part and used each half to make a mushroom. The flat, wide part of the cone became the top of the mushroom, and the point became the tapered growth underneath. I used a small ball tipped tool to make small creases in the stem part of the mushroom where it attaches to the bark. Eventually, I had to use some clay to prop up the ring while adding mushrooms, so I wouldn't crush the ones I'd already attached.

I wedged the ring into the oven upright using some foil to keep the mushrooms from being smooshed, then baked it at 275 degrees F for 20 minutes.

It might not be practical for everyday use, and I have to take it off to wash my hands, but I like having an offbeat accessory to remind me that no matter what else is going on, life can still have fun and silly moments. Thanks for reading!

Comments

author
thepoisonivy (author)2016-09-29

beautiful! love it.

author
Aliciwonder (author)2015-12-09

Nice

author
Daneel (author)2015-07-22

I'm not one for big rings but this is a kickass idea. I could totally make a lamp or night-light like this.

author
Omnivent (author)2015-04-21

Nice work!

If you ever wanna do something similar, you could use an UV-LED for a stronger glow :)

author
Corinbw (author)2015-03-08

Wow this is very inspiring, I make a lot of rings, and this makes me want to make a natural form wood ring like the one you made. I love it.

Where can I get some polymer clay

author
supersoftdrink (author)Corinbw2015-03-09

Most craft stores (JoAnn, Michaels, etc) have polymer clay. It's better if you wait for it to go on sale for 40% off, though, or else buy it online from a place like this http://www.polymerclaysuperstore.com/

If you live close to Provo, though, just come to our house and I'll give you some. We also have small pieces of various exotic woods, and if you promise not to cut off your thumb, you can make something in our work room with the tools we have. Josh can show you how to put stuff on the tiny lathe we have (it's not ideal, but it still works for very small things like rings).

author
Corinbw (author)supersoftdrink2015-03-20

thanks for the offer and the ideas. I may take you up on that if I visit my dad soon

author
onoyoudint (author)2015-03-03

Excellent instructable! Terrific photos and thorough instructions. The ring is amazing! Thank you for sharing...

author
drobinson36 (author)2015-03-02

you could make it so you are the switch. I mean have the contacts make connection so only when the ring is on does it light up

author
Joetta_Jett (author)2015-02-28

Im going to try this in a couple weeks! Just waiting for some supplies to come in the mail! We dont have some of the items in town. But Im incredibly excited! Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

author
donald.lv.14 (author)2015-02-28

did u win?

author
IlseS (author)2015-02-27

Congrats! :-)

author
BronsonA (author)2015-02-26

There is no way I wont vote for you. This is the best, electric ring I have ever seen. I love it! Hope you win!

author
DebuffedHero (author)2015-02-26

This is really awesome! I had no idea that it had an embedded LED light. You could also use clay with phosphorus powder rolled in. That way you don't have to worry about batteries, etc. Fantastic design and truly creative! Love it!

author
Xxpe1nxx (author)2015-02-26

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thesnowtheriver (author)2015-02-26

This fulfills all requirements for a top-notch instructable: original ( and fun) idea, creative implementation, beautiful workmanship, clear instructions, good photos. you've got my vote!!!

author
starforest (author)2015-02-25

Oh, wow how creative! You could make one without the ring part and glue it to a magnet or drill a hole and put it on a jewlry chain.

author
marilandita (author)2015-02-25

A...mazing. And stupidly creative, definitedly voting!

author
dimmaz88 (author)2015-02-25

Absolutely amazing!

author
Dani78 (author)2015-02-25

well done. You got my vote.

author
drusso3 (author)2015-02-25

This is absolutely amazing great detail on the ring and in the instructable good job

author
ecsaul23 (author)2015-02-24

voted!!! amazing!

author
shazni (author)2015-02-24

What an amazingly unique idea! A+++ for uniquness :-)

author
thehappyhoofer (author)2015-02-24

Creativity like yours is what makes Instructibles the addictive wonder that it is!
Thank you for this, so beautiful.

author
sixsmith (author)2015-02-24

dang, if I could give you multiple votes I would. That is probably the sweetest ring out there.. . maybe I just like fungi

author
thetreehearts (author)2015-02-24

That looks crazy! In a good way of course! Amazing idea and craftsmanship going on here.

author
NathanSellers (author)2015-02-24

Pretty cool. This definitely looks like a fun project.

author
lucidpsycho (author)2015-02-24

amazing. remind me of those blue mushrooms underground in that Dwarven ruins in Skyrim.

author
ashleyjlong (author)2015-02-24

What a unique piece! That's really beautiful even without the mushrooms installed. I love those cheap little LED fingers lights --so versatile!

author
ChrysN (author)2015-02-24

Wow, this looks amazing!

author
ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-02-24

This is so beautiful... Wow, what a great job

author
Miss_Organized (author)2015-02-24

This looks awesome!

author
dr_peru (author)2015-02-24

Wow, that looks incredible! You got my vote (as soon as it enters the ring contest)!

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Bio: I'm known as Glindabunny elsewhere on the web. (silly name, I know... it was based on a former pet) Everyone is born with unique ... More »
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