turning with spices - pen with pepper

Turning with spices – a playful element in the turnery

With spices, you can not only season your food but also make decorations.

For example in the form of spice bouquets, in potpourri, or as decorated oranges.


orange with cloves


But with spices, you can also do other things. For example, turning.

This is, of course, a playful way to use them, but it brings a new element to the turnery. The spices alone cannot be turned, they are too small for that. So they have to be brought into shape somehow and this is usually done with resins. The spices can either be cast in resin as a whole or in powder form. If whole spices are used, there is, unfortunately, the problem that the resin doesn’t fill up the cavities of the spices, which means that individual pieces may break off during turning. But even this can be decorative. For turning with spices, it’s better to use ground spices though.

One of the people who knows this very well is Edy Zellweger.

He has been turning for about 3 years, at first, he wanted to make ballpoint pens and was soon curious about what materials other than wood can be turned. Soon he took a course where he learned how to work with resins. Then he started to mix different powders into his resins. For example coffee, flour, cornflour or even spices.

With the spices, you could think that the resins would be nicely coloured.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The spices change their colour when they come into contact with two-component resin. Edy explains it with the fact that when mixing the two components heat is generated and the colours change. Even turmeric, which has a very strong yellow, turns brown, like all other spices. The only thing that has kept its colour until now was the yellow cornmeal.


pen made with resin and spices
pen made with resin and cornflour and spices Foto: Edy Zellweger


The smell, however, remains. For about six months the object will smell of the spice used.

I find Edy’s pepper mill, which is made of resin with pepper, particularly interesting.


peppermill made with resin and pepper
peppermill made with resin and pepper
Foto: Edy Zellweger


Another topic is, of course, working with wood from spice trees. We brought a piece of cinnamon wood home from Sri Lanka (yes, we carry wood home from everywhere ?). It smells wonderful, in Sri Lanka they even make toothpicks from it!


turning with spices, toothpicks made from cinnamon wood
toothpicks made from cinnamon wood


Better known to us is the laurel wood and in Sardinia many years ago I was in a house that had a juniper wood attic. I will never forget the smell.

I have never seen nutmeg wood and clove wood, but I can imagine that it has a good smell as well.

Other spice woods may not smell as good, but they have a nice colour, like sandalwood or the vinegar tree, which is a (poisonous) relative of sumac.


You might ask yourself why I know so much about woodturning. The answer is simple, my husband is a woodturner and he gave me the idea for this post. He also once made me a pen made of pepper ?


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