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zondag 9 november 2014

Quick and easy plutonium rods

Our Halloween was nuclear themed, so if there's one thing that needs to be there, it's glowing plutonium rods! Never mind that plutonium, or any nuclear fuel, doesn't really look like that, it's how everyone pictures them. This is a very easy prop, and I feel almost stupid for posting this, but I really like how they turned out.


  • Broomstick
  • Acrylic gesso
  • Blacklight paint
  • Phosphorescent paint
  • Glossy varnish
  • Saw and sandpaper
How to make them
Well, not too much to say about it. They're just pieces of wood painted using green blacklight paint. I cut the broomstick into 15 cm long pieces; one broomstick was sufficient for 9 plutonium rods. I sanded the ends to remove any splinters and give it a nice rounded edge.
Before I painted them green, I gave them a base coat using white acrylic gesso. I didn't know how opaque the green paint was, and I didn't want to risk having the wood grain show through. Besides, it never hurts to use any sort of primer.

After it had dried I painted them using the green blacklight paint. As I feared, it was pretty translucent, and I had to apply several coats before I was satisfied with the color. After they had dried, I finished them with glossy varnish. The paint isn't waterproof, so this was a must.
After a quick test: major disappointment. The paint didn't work at all! It barely did anything under a blacklight! I searched Ebay for a better alternative: phosphorescent paint! A few days later it arrived in the mail, and I painted the rods with it. The paint was a true pain in the ass to apply. It was nearly impossible to apply an even coat, every single brush stroke showed up, so I had to apply lots of layers of paint. I just kept painting the rods until I ran out of paint. After that, again a few layers of varnish.

The result
Here's a picture of one of the fuel rods glowing after being exposed to a blacklight bulb. This picture was taken in complete darkness!

It also works with other types of light, but a blacklight works best. I've got two small blacklight bulbs myself. Looks pretty neat, and an advantage of the phosphorescent paint is that you can "charge" the rods over a blacklight, and they will keep glowing very brightly for a while.

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