Alan Wood’s microscopical diary – 2024

March 2024

The Reading Convention is now being run by the Quekett and has been re-named the Quekett Spring Sale. It is an awkward journey to Sonning Common, 3¾ hours by public transport, but it is worth it to meet up with old friends, sell a few items, and use the proceeds to buy some small items. I sold some Biosil slides of crystals and trematodes, and the Meopta AZ-2 portable microscope that I bought several years ago but have never used. I picked up a Zeiss Kpl 8×/18 eyepiece and an Olympus NK 5× L eyepiece, and when I have time I will try them out for photomicrography with a simple camera adapter. I also bought something I thought I would never find, an adjustable Olympus sector diaphragm for oblique dark-ground reflected illumination with my BH-era Neo objectives.

Back to normal for the workshop on hair slides, led by John Gregory. I was too busy taking photographs and notes to make any slides, but I was able to take some of John’s demonstration slides home to photograph.

Guinea pig hair and impression

Guinea pig hair mounted in LOCA (top) and impression in Vida Rosa
[Olympus SPlan 20 objective, Nikon Achr 0.85 condenser, NFK 2.5 photo eyepiece. Canon EOS 5D Mark II controlled by EOS Utility, ISO 200. Stack of 18 images, .002 µm steps, combined in Zerene Stacker PMax. Hair diameter 0.07 mm]

Human hair in LOCA

Human hair mounted in LOCA
[Olympus SPlan 20 objective, Nikon Achr 0.85 condenser, NFK 2.5 photo eyepiece. Canon EOS 5D Mark II controlled by EOS Utility, ISO 200. Stack of 12 images, .002 µm steps, combined in Zerene Stacker PMax. Hair diameter 0.08 mm]

February 2024

I am usually too busy taking photographs and notes to actually participate in Quekett workshops, but I managed to make some slides at the workshop on practical slide-mounting, led by Chris Thomas.

Dry-mounted slides

Dry-mounted slides

Chris provided a saturated solution of vitamin C and demonstrated applying a small drop to a slide. The drop can be left to dry, or it can be spread out thinly. Crystal growth can be encouraged by adding small crystals as seeds, or by scratching the deposit while it is still damp. I didn’t spread my drop, and other people got better results with thin layers.

Vitamin C crystals

Vitamin C crystals

Chris showed us how to paint a circle of diluted PVA glue on a slide using a ringing turntable. Then sprinkle sand onto the glue, turn the slide over and tap off the excess sand. The sand can be protected by adding a 3″×1″ piece of 1 mm card with a central hole.

Orkney sand

Orkney sand (protected with card cover)

Orkney sand

Orkney sand

Chris showed us a simple method for finding the centre of a slide: draw round the slide, then draw diagonals, and the centre is where the diagonals cross.

Guide for positioning shark tooth

Guide for positioning shark tooth

To fasten the tooth to the slide, we used a tiny drop of Vida Rosa UV Resin, cured by holding the slide over a UV torch for 60 seconds.

Shark tooth

Shark tooth

Chris demonstrated a method for mounting a thin specimen between two slides that are held together with 6 mm copper tape. The idea came from Michael Horwood, and Gordon Brown recommended the spring clips that hold the slides while the tape is being applied.

Starling feather between two slides

Blackbird feather between two slides

January 2024

Barry Wendon, Paul Smith and I took microscopes and specimens to the “Life Under a Microscope” session of the Wimbledon Common Nature Club. It is run by Auriel Glanville and her assistants (Luci Teuma and Alexander and Oliver Mallett) and welcomes children from 6–14 years old to come and discover the world of nature on the Common. They meet for 2 hours each month in the Information Centre, the same venue as used by Quekett members on excursions, the Weekend of Nature and the Open Day. I took my Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope with reflected and transmitted light, and a small and simple stereomicroscope.

Stereo microscopes

Stereo microscopes

Microscope slides

Microscope slides

Arrangement of 16 forams

Arrangement of foraminifera

Sieve tubes in Cucurbita sp.

Sieve tubes in Cucurbita sp.

Spiracle of cinnabar moth caterpillar

Spiracle of cinnabar moth caterpillar (from slide of whole skin)

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