Glowing results are possible when building with flawed wood

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Mat Brown mixed glow-in-the-dark pigment with resin to fill in the cracks on this shelf. (Photo by Mat Brown)
Mat Brown mixed glow-in-the-dark pigment with resin to fill in the cracks on this shelf. Photo: Mat Brown

Jewelry maker Mat Brown is getting married, and the romantic in him is hard at work creating wedding rings out of an alloy of silver and gold called electrum.

But on the practical side of sharing a life, Brown recently created space in his kitchen with shelves as unique as his jewelry: Brown used a glow-in-the-dark resin to fill in cracks in the wooden shelves, and happily shared the luminescent process and result on his blog.

Starting with chestnut with cracks and knotholes. (Photo by Matt Brown)
Starting with chestnut with cracks and knotholes. Photo: Matt Brown

“I tend to try to make things rather than buy them, although that’s often not an option, of course,” said Brown, who lives in Norwich, England. “I can sew, but I can’t weave fabric. I can work with wood but I can’t make a TV. But you have to try, right? For a long time I worked as a software developer, which is making things in a different way.”

Brown started the shelves with a lovely but flawed piece of chestnut. It was cracked, pitted and full of knotholes. There are plenty of techniques for inlaying resin, mixing sawdust and glue and the like to try to match the wood. But Brown instead mixed crystal resin with a bluish, glowing pigment left over from a ring project.

He heated and mixed his resin, taking extra time to remove unwanted bubbles. He sealed the holes from the bottom with plumbers tape and once the resin was ready, he carefully poured.

Three days later, the resin was cured but Brown waited three more days to be extra-sure before he removed the tape to begin sanding and planing. After hours of muscle, Brown brought the shelves to life with several coats of linseed oil cut with white spirits. Out came the grain and the color.

Brown, 36, adds a little color to everything. He even tells people he has a share of the Nobel Prize. Which is true — sort of.

“In 2012, the Nobel Prize for peace was awarded to the (European Union) and I am member of the EU; me and 500 million other people, so it’s a pretty slim share of a Nobel medal.”

Glow resin fills in a jagged space on the panel. (Photo by Mat Brown)
Glowing resin fills in a jagged space on the panel. Photo: Mat Brown
The finished product and its brilliant color detail. (Photo by Mat Brown)
The finished product and its brilliant color detail. Photo: Mat Brown