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Wiskel
07-05-2010, 02:05 AM
I'm writing a strange story. It has wooden dolls as main characters....at least, they have wooden skin.

I'm trying to work out how a person might live and age with wooden skin, I figure that if you keep the wood supple and in good shape then that's got to be a good thing, but it suits my purpose to have the dolls dependant on something their bodies can't make themselves.

I'm drawing a blank trying to research oils that keep wood supple. Google is heavily biased towards commercial products which keep their recipes to themselves. All I've come up with is linseed oil.

My ideal would be to identify a tree or plant that produces an oil that protects wood. It doesn't have to be perfect science, just passable enough to have a vague ring of truth to it. If it's a tree then I can even have the dolls made from the same wood.

The more exotic sounding, the better.

As a follow up question, knowing roughly how much oil the tree / plant can produce over a given time period without harming it would be useful. A ballpark would be enough, just knowing if it's drops or bucketfuls would be great.

Craig

Nivarion
07-05-2010, 02:43 AM
I've had good success with mineral oil in my cutting boards.

And that there's about all I can tell you.

Shakesbear
07-05-2010, 03:29 AM
I use beeswax polish on my wooden furniture but that is to protect the surface not to keep it supple. Can you contact a furniture conservator or a carpenter who could give you some advice? The National Trust and English Heritage may be able to suggest some one who could help you.

Have you also thought that applying oil will change the colour of the wood? I use olive oil on my oak chopping and bread boards and it makes them darker. Which gives me and idea - you could try contacting http://www.robertthompsons.co.uk/visitor-centre/ who make all sorts of oak stuff - they made my chopping boards.

GeorgeK
07-05-2010, 03:39 AM
Linseed Oil is good for wooden parts on garden tools and it has a distinctive smell, not unpleasant at all, but certainly distinctive.

Nivarion
07-05-2010, 11:19 AM
Hmm, just remembered. To make pieces of wood flexible for say, making a guitar, the steam it. Get it hot and wet enough and it'll take whatever shape you want it too.

I'm no expert on it, but I think that if you oil it in this state it'll stay flexible.

Remember, no expert. I think it'll be just as likely to be limber as warp like crazy.

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-06-2010, 05:30 AM
If I buy a book about wooden-skinned characters, I won't be surprised that the author has made up the special oil.

Just make something up.

Wiskel
07-06-2010, 11:09 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I was hoping to use something with one foot in reality (or at least a toe), but it looks like I'll end up with something totally fictional.

Craig

mtrenteseau
07-08-2010, 06:56 AM
The theory of evolution is that any trait that limits a creature's ability to survive long enough to reproduce will eventually die out. So on one level, it's not an absolute necessity that your characters need something to function normally.

Real people use all sorts of things to keep their skin young and supple. You could add a dimension to your characters by choosing how they maintain themselves. Do they use expensive and rare products because they're wealthy, or vain, or in desperate need of maintaining a condition ravaged by a previous lifetime of poor choices? Do they put something particular on before going out in the sun, and something else if they'll be inside?

Teak oil is very useful for outdoor furniture and maintaining its condition in the elements. And lemon oil is a classic ingredient in indoor furniture polish.

Wiskel
07-08-2010, 11:16 AM
The theory of evolution is that any trait that limits a creature's ability to survive long enough to reproduce will eventually die out. So on one level, it's not an absolute necessity that your characters need something to function normally.

Real people use all sorts of things to keep their skin young and supple. You could add a dimension to your characters by choosing how they maintain themselves. Do they use expensive and rare products because they're wealthy, or vain, or in desperate need of maintaining a condition ravaged by a previous lifetime of poor choices? Do they put something particular on before going out in the sun, and something else if they'll be inside?

Teak oil is very useful for outdoor furniture and maintaining its condition in the elements. And lemon oil is a classic ingredient in indoor furniture polish.


Thanks for the heads up on teak oil.

The evolution advantage / disadvantage bit I understand, but I want to give my characters a weakness. I like the idea of them being very long lived but very vulnerable to accidents, making caution or wealth advantages in the survival of the fittest. I'm hoping to create a dysfunctional, capitalist society where a bit of paranoia and jealousy can thrive.

Craig

frimble3
07-08-2010, 02:04 PM
A 'dysfunctional, capitalist society' with a lot of paranoia about fire, flame, sparks, and heat sources, and a lot of taboos about charcoal? And bugs: "Is that a termite? I think it's a termite! Argh, I'm infested!" And no-one mentions beavers: "The gnawing, the gnawing!"

frolzagain
07-08-2010, 05:35 PM
I did a quick google search and found a link that said parafin oil will keep cedar wood supple.

frolzagain
07-08-2010, 06:40 PM
I was also wondering if you had heard of the doll in key west that supposedly ages and moves. I think its skin is made out of wood so it might be worth researching for your story. I think your idea sounds interesting~ good luck :)