After i had acquired my bismuth i experimented with melting small amounts in a stainless steel saucepan to get a feel for the substance.
Initial tests showed that it was very runny when molten, and not very sticky. Early tests of trying to encrust a pencil with the crystals didn’t work – the wood burned at the high temperatures making the already unsticky metal even less bonded. I tried scoring the wood to aid adhesion but to no avail. The small amount of metal used also hindered progress – next time more material is needed.
i decided to form the crystals inside the wood rather than on the outside. I later found this to be a much more successful approach. The wood i used was a hardwood branch section into which i had drilled a sizeable depression. No scoring or treating was neccessary although i did refrigerate the wood beforehand to hinder burning and encourage crystal growth.
The finished product is a success. The crystals are very clearly visible and strike the beautiful contrast to the wood (although both are natural – this is the point of my project)
I carved a simple but effective patterned relief into the wood to look as if it continued underneath the bark. this was more time consuming that assumed but i think it works well. I would be interested in working with bismuth on a larger scale, budget depending.