Through the microscope

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Baker Series IV paint matching

Baker Series IV paint matching

The Baker Series IV is a rather unusual colour, a sort of greenish grey with a metallic sheen. I am reliably informed that Baker used a cellulose paint. The colour and sheen is not easy to match unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money on a colour matching service at a fancy auto shop. As a car colour matching service would cost me more than I paid for the microscope, I plumped for muddling through on my own.

I have had a lovely German exchange student for the past week and I didn’t want to play around with paint too much in case the smell upset her, but I did manage to prepare the microscope for painting by scrubbing the rusted spots with wire wool dipped in de-corroder. Now I am free to stink up my house again, so I have prepared an essay on “what I did at the weekend”.

First, I braved a trip to Hobbycraft. Within five minutes of entering Hobbycraft I am usually ranting in the style of John Cleese. I HATE HOBBYCRAFT. Everything in there comes in kit form because Hobbycraft don’t seem to credit their customers with any imagination or creativity. The kits they sell are usually missing something important and the staff in there, although very pleasant, are powerless to help you. I have been in there on numerous occasions over the years asking why they sell fat quarters of quilting cotton and quilt wadding but no quilt backing. The only good thing about their appalling sewing range is that my loathing of Hobbycraft led to my discovering a very lovely quilt shop in Bristol called Poppy Patchwork. Visit them, they’re wonderful. I’ll put in a link at the end.

Back to the Baker Series IV : In Hobbycraft I managed to find some Humbrol enamel paints. I chose a variety of greenish/grey paints and a few others (because my husband was paying).
I painted a small area of the microscope with each of the greenish/grey paints and a couple of mixes.

In the photo above you can see (from right to left)
MET 53, matt 224, matt 75, satin 163, a 1:1 mix of matt 224 : MET 53 and right on the toe of the microscope you can just about see a 10:1 mix of matt 224 : MET53. None of these were perfect but it gave me an idea of where to go next.

After playing around for some hours I discovered a pretty good mix. Two small brushfuls of Met 53 mixed with one brushful of satin 163, plus two drops of black gloss 21 and one drop of green 75. The sheen is not quite right but the colour is good. Hopefully when it is polished up it will be a pretty good match. I’ll post more pictures when it is finished.

Poppy Patchwork –


It was definitely a spider…

It was definitely a spider...

As promised, though somewhat delayed by my mother having septicaemia, a picture of what I found in my 45X fluorite objective. It was taken with my Canon DSLR and a stereomicroscope.

Definitely a spider’s web not mould.

As usual I had a huge argument with Adobe Elements 10. I hate it with a passion and I’m going to buy Helicon focus instead, but never mind. We have photographic evidence of the spider. The spider herself has gone. She probably starved to death.

Now I have photographed the spider’s web I can clean the objective. I’m curious to see how well it has survived being home to an arachnid.

PS. My mother has recovered.


Spiders in my microscope

Spiders in my microscope

I think it’s a cobweb

I mentioned yesterday that I bought a very tatty microscope to do up. Well this isn’t from that microscope, it’s from another microscope which I bought for spare parts. It came with four objectives on it, one of them is a Cooke 45X oil objective which I am reliably informed was designed by Bryan Payne – he of the well known book “Microscope Design and Construction”.

I already have one of these objectives but I was jolly pleased to have another. I took it off the microscope to inspect it and saw this. I think it’s a cobweb.

Spiders have been making their home in my microscope objective! I can’t imagine they caught many flies.

I shall have a look at the stuff under the microscope when I have space to set one up. At the moment my bench is covered in freshly painted microscopes and I can’t move them until tomorrow.

Could be mould, but I think it’s cobwebs.
I’m amused.

When I’ve cleaned it up I shall take a picture through it, to see how well it survived the spiders. Cooke objectives are tough. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s perfectly usable.


Ebony and ivory – Watson Bactils.

Watson Bactils

Watson Bactils

Look at my Watson Bactils. Aren’t they pretty? The correct answer to that question is, “Yes, yes they are pretty. Very very pretty indeed.”

The white one is a new acquisition. I shouldn’t have bought it but I did. It was white, I had to. My usual excuse is “It was black and shiny, I had to.”
I should have thought it through in advance. Something along the lines of “a man came to the door with this white microscope and held the cat hostage…”

My husband is a bit grumpy about it. Luckily, the White Bactil needs some lighting so I distracted him by suggesting he make me an LED illuminator. He very much enjoys playing with electronics and has been mucking about with LED lights for weeks. He’s been making LED displays. Very dull, until I need a display 🙂

Bactils are fine microscopes. Very fine. They’re very heavy too. There’s no way you could knock one off the table, unless you knocked the table with a small car, but should you knock one off the table pray it doesn’t land on your foot.

As I mentioned earlier, the white Bactil has no lamp unit. I spent sometime looking at lamp housings and LED lights and fretting about condenser lenses and field diaphragms for Kohler illumination before it dawned on me that it would be far simpler, and considerably cheaper, to stick a mirror onto a piece of MDF and bung it underneath.

Lamp housings (decent ones that will fit) are hard to find, especially if you’re as impatient as I am. They are also expensive. A mirror is cheap, simple and easy. I can paint my bit of MDF the right colour, I can cut it to fit perfectly and because I have a glorious Vickers external illuminator I can get Kohler illumination for less than the cost of a bus fare into the city. It will look perfect too, unlike the more expensive option.

Don’t tell my husband of my cunning plan though, he’s already started building my lamp. He just started soldering microchips to LEDs. The sitting room looks we’re using lightning bolts instead of lightbulbs at the moment. I’m not sure how much light he thinks I need but I’m certain I’ll lose my retinas if I look at that through a lens!

I shall call his microscope illuminator Thor 1.0.


Microscope strip down


Today’s project, more precisely, this week’s project. My Cooke Troughton and Simms polarizing microscope has been stripped down and cleaned. It was very grubby and covered in old grease, so much so that it was sticky to touch. Horrid.

I’ve had a go at restoration before with acceptable results. It’s a learning curve. Some things worked out better than others but I’m pretty certain I haven’t ever made anything worse.
I’m not confident enough to do anything to the insides of the tube yet. Just a quick poof of air with the air-poofer.

The CTS has been washed with vulpex soap, cleaned with Rennaissance pre-lim and it’s come up quite nicely. I have used a whole packet of cotton buds and dozens of lint free cloths and various bits have been degreased and regreased.

I had a bit of trouble with the coarse focus. The pin is slightly bent so I shall have to chat up my neighbour to get it straightened. He is quite handy with bits of metal, he can chat for England though so I need to allow at least two hours when I go round.

There was some kind of resin stuck fast to the feet. Initially, I thought there was rust and the paint had bubbled up but it was resin. I’ve sanded it down and now I need to repaint the sanded bits. Primer us on. I’ll paint before I go to bed.

This is the part I dread. I’ll paint and sand repeatedly and I still won’t be happy with the result. I think that’s where T-cut comes in.

I haven’t touched the optics yet. They won’t be too much trouble.


USB sticks

USB sticks


Improved onion

Improved onion

A little bit of faffing around with phase telescopes and lamps and I have much improved pictures. Not a rainbow in sight!

This time I have used oblique lighting instead of phase.
Do you like my stomata? I’m pretty chuffed with it 😀


Onion skin

Onion skin

Here’s my onion skin, as promised. I’m not completely satisfied with the pictures. I can definitely see a rainbow across the images and I think my light must be set up wrong. I was sure I had it correct but aligning the lamp is quite tricky. The instruction book suggests using a mirror to help you position the light and to focus on the filament when setting up kohler illumination..

I don’t have the mirror that was supplied with the microscope and I haven’t managed to get any other mirror to work as suggested. I have centred my light bulb by eye as best I can but there’s a definite rainbow.

My phase rings are definitely where they should be.
I suppose they’re not too bad. I have only taken photographs a few times and I can’t expect to achieve perfection quickly. People dedicate their lives to microscopy. I have dedicated about two years in total. I have only been taking photographs for a few weeks.

I should give up working. There just isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do. I have things to sew too.

I never had this trouble with electron microscopes. I had completely different problems with them, like the sample burning up in front of you. That was always fun!

I shall have another bash at it and hopefully I shall be taking rainbow free pictures soon.


Rheinberg and crossed polars

Rheinberg and crossed polars

Vitamin C with rheinberg and crossed polars by Spike Walker

I stumbled across some pictures while I was looking for information on Rheinberg filters. Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! for somebody who loves both quilts and microscopes these images are heaven.
The pictures were taken by Spike Walker. Supersaturated vitamin C has been allowed to crystallise (on a microscope slide I assume) and then scratched to from the quilt like patterns. When viewed with crossed polars and Rheinberg filters these stunning pictures are produced.

I’m inspired so I’m off to play with my microscope. Catch you later!

Link to source of pictures, definitely worth a look:-

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