Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 42

Thread: Homemade Casein Picks

  1. #1

    Default Homemade Casein Picks

    Anyone ever try to make casein picks from scratch? I decided to try after learning about it being a fairly simple process of adding vinegar to warm milk. Took a while to dry and harden (over two weeks) and then I used poly wipe to make them a bit more durable (choosing to skip the formaldehyde bath stage :-), and though the thinner (sub 1mm ones cracked, I think I definitely got some keepers in the 1.25-1.5mm range. Nice feel and tone and no string noise at all. Like casein picks I've purchased, I don't know that I'd take them out to a big jam, but for playing around home, small groups and recording I think they will be really nice.

    Some more process pics here:

    https://www.instagram.com/tunehorn/

    Swipe to see their blue tortilla chip like birth...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	picks.jpg 
Views:	308 
Size:	194.4 KB 
ID:	190223  

  2. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to bradinbrooklyn For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Brad: that is a great project for us quarantiners. Maybe make some holiday-themed colors? How to make clown vomit colors?

    Yours are quite attractive—I even like the rough tortilla stage. Do you use whole milk or 2%, 1% or skim? I wonder if the type of vinegar makes a difference. How would balsamic work? Or would straight acetic acid work even better? I wonder how the commercial casein picks are made.

    Was this the info you found? I searched and found this post on UMGF:
    How to Make Casein for Plastic Guitar Picks

    To make casein for guitar picks, musicians will need just two cups of milk and two tablespoons of vinegar. After following a few simple steps, they will turn these two ingredients into plastic.

    1. Pour 2 cups of milk into a sauce pan.

    2. Heat the milk on low stirring constantly to prevent burning or boiling.

    3. When the milk is warm, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and continue to stir for several more minutes.

    As soon as the vinegar is mixed with the milk, musicians will notice an amazing transformation. The milk separates into a clear liquid and floating white flakes. This white material is the casein.

    To separate the floating plastic from the hot liquid, musicians will need a strainer. They can line the bottom of the strainer with paper towels and then pour the warm mixture slowly, allowing time for the liquid to filter through.

    Allow the casein to cool for a few minutes before handling it. When the plastic is a comfortable temperature, musicians will need to squeeze as much liquid out of it as possible.

    Products formed with casein need around two or three days to dry. Store unused plastic in a zip-lock bag or other air-tight container.

    How to Make a Guitar Plectrum with Casein

    Casein can be shaped by hand, but remains somewhat flaky until completely dry. For this reason, it may prove easier to form guitar picks using a mold.

    The easiest way to make a mold requires a small piece of sheet metal, some tin snips, and pliers. Once a mold is made, it can be used to create as many picks as desired.

    1.Select a favorite pick that is a preferred size and shape.

    2.Place the pick on its side on the end of the sheet metal then roll it along to determine the length of metal needed to wrap around it.

    3.Make a mark then use tin snips to cut the metal.

    4.Use pliers to bend the scrap of metal around the pick to create what looks like a pick-shaped cookie cutter.

    Making the Casein Guitar Picks

    Whether shaping the casein by hand or pressing it into a mold, you will want to leave you picks slightly thicker to accommodate for sanding and finishing. They’ll have enough casein to experiment with several shapes and thicknesses. It’s a good idea to try a variety since every nuance of a pick—the point or roundedness of its tip, its thickness, and its shape—greatly effect playability.

    Once the picks are formed, you should put them in an out-of-the-way spot and leave them alone for several days. When the picks are dry, they can be buffed up with coarse sand paper. Finishing touches may include smoothing and beveling edges or tapering points on thicker picks.

    Casein picks have a pleasantly dark tone compared to other plastic plectrums. It’s hard to believe, but the material which days earlier was simply milk and vinegar, can now stand up to steel guitar strings.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  4. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:


  5. #3
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,987

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    The formaldehyde bath is pretty important part of the process. It acts as crosslinking agent and completely stabilizes and transforms the plastic. Without this it will be very sensitive to dampness and especially alkalis. It will most likely dissolve in slightly alcalic solutions.
    There are other effective crosslinking agents that are benign and may work well...
    Adrian

  6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to HoGo For This Useful Post:


  7. #4

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Hi Jim!

    That wasn't the exact process I followed, but it's essentially the same. I used whole milk, and that may well have slowed my drying time/lessened my curd yield as I guess there's more fat in it that has to come out. Skim is supposed to be ideal. I didn't have a cutter so just did that by hand with a razor blade. As it hardened, I traced around a TAD shaped BC pick on the bigger ones. I think if I do it again (which I probably will because I'm definitely going to use these and give some away to friends), I'll probably make a sheet after kneading and then wait at least a week to cut them to shape, maybe even a bit longer than that. I made a bunch of them too small/thin not accounting for the shrinkage factor and ended up with a lot of scraps. That said, I tried a couple as press-on fingernails for clawhammer with a little glue dot under them and they seem to work well for that. happy accident.

    As they reached what seemed like max drying hardness in the last couple days, I applied a few coats of poly-wipe to them after i sanded/beveled to final shape. That (or shellac) was recommended in this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nQyPLZcHLw - to increase durability more naturally than formalin (formaldehyde) which industrial strength casein apparently soaks in for months (?) before being shaped. I didn't want to go that route, mostly because I'm impatient, and it seems like a nasty substance (for the living). That video I'd recommend watching if you're going to do it as he uses all the right ingredients and adds another step to purify it more which I'm forgetting.

    I'm not positive on how the commercial casein picks are made, but I assume they are purchased in sheets like this:

    https://www.rothkoandfrost.com/furni...-galalith-t526

    And then they are just shaped into picks. Personally I'm not a big fan of the ones I have tried. Had a red bear years ago which I found really dull, and more recently I tried the CT one from D'addario but ended up trading it. These ones I made actually have a feel closer to wegens and tone closer to bluechips (though not sure how hard I will be able to push them). So far, the thicker ones seem to be holding up just fine, and I actually like the very rounded circle one in the middle a lot more than I usually like that shape.

    Highly recommend trying it! We can do a little pick/notes swap when you're done. As for clown barf, great question. I just put some blue food coloring in the milk on this round. I'm guessing, if I add it instead to the raw casein after some kneading, I will be able to get a little more multi-color swirl control.

    Sidebar - congrats on the Campanella, btw, they are so lovely! Didn't know you had one and look forward to checking it out when the world gets back to normal!

  8. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,879

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    This may become my new business. Cow Chip Picks.

    Thanks Brad. Long time no see.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #6

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    And mice like to eat the stuff too, so no leftovers.

  10. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    This may become my new business. Cow Chip Picks.
    I got four deer that love to visit my backyard. If you figure out how to convert the cow chips... maybe I can use the deer's production.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  11. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,879

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I got four deer that love to visit my backyard. If you figure out how to convert the cow chips... maybe I can use the deer's production.
    You need to look at all the opportunities Jim. You've got the makings of a strap empire walking through your backyard.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,879

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    The OP asked that we move this to the Equipment section. It has been moved.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    This may become my new business. Cow Chip Picks.

    Thanks Brad. Long time no see.
    I'll go in on it with you Mike, but maybe Moo Chips is better?

  14. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Brad: I seem to recall some thread on the subject here (maybe) a few years ago. Home-made Picks

    I also remember my kids having some sort of plastic stuff you could color and bake in the oven and I tried making a pick from that but I think the stuff was way too soft for a real pick—maybe even rubbery.

    Here's another well illustrated site: Make Plastic out of Milk

    I will have to take a look at that youtube video you posted above.
    --------
    As for my Campanella: I lucked out trading with another fine MC camper. I didn't even know I wanted a Campanella but I had something he really wanted and we were both pleased as Punch Brothers—so nice when that works out so well. I still love mine and it sounds very different from my other mandolins. I don't play it with casein picks though.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  15. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    You need to look at all the opportunities Jim. You've got the makings of a strap empire walking through your backyard.
    Ah, yes, but I believe that this strapping emperor has not clothes. Venison Straps?
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  16. #13
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    South Germany
    Posts
    588

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    At last! someone who is really making casein picks, rather than using galalith, which is polymerized casein (that's what the formaldehyde stage is for). Of course, I'm being pedantic and facetious here. I can't imagine unpolymerized casein would be very durable, but who knows? I've been making my own galalith picks for years now, having bought a sheet of the stuff here: https://www.galalith.store/shop . Having enough of the material has enabled me to experiment with size, shape and thickness, which I would be unwilling to do with finished picks, given what they cost.
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

  17. The following members say thank you to Polecat for this post:


  18. #14

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Polecat View Post
    At last! someone who is really making casein picks, rather than using galalith, which is polymerized casein (that's what the formaldehyde stage is for). Of course, I'm being pedantic and facetious here. I can't imagine unpolymerized casein would be very durable, but who knows? I've been making my own galalith picks for years now, having bought a sheet of the stuff here: https://www.galalith.store/shop . Having enough of the material has enabled me to experiment with size, shape and thickness, which I would be unwilling to do with finished picks, given what they cost.
    As for durability, time will certainly tell, and I'll update here as I play with them more. The Red Bear casein (galalith) pick was the first expensive pick I bought, and I remember it cracking (and hearing stories of others with the same problem - cracking/warping, etc), so I think durability is a concern generally with the material (at least when used as a pick). I thought about buying some old galalith buttons or possibly a sheet/rods to work from, but didn't for a couple reasons. First, I never really cared for the cut/volume range of the casein/galalith picks I played (I think I liked the newer Thile Daddarrio one more because it was a little thinner and had a better bevel than the red bear), but while they had a pleasant tone I otherwise found them kind of dull in comparison to Blue chips or even softer wegens (which was my go to for a while) so I didn't want to end up with that in the end. Next, it just seemed funner to make it from scratch and easier to work with and shape with razorblades and sandpaper. In the end the ones that seem to be hard enough to play with after almost 3 weeks of drying and a few coats of poly wipe actually have a feel, tone and cut I'm very pleased with. And I got about 10 of them from a cup of milk and two tablespoons of vinegar.

    Important to note, they are all in the 1.2-1.7 range. Everything thinner than that has cracked, even with ukulele strumming! So if you like a thinner pick, they probably aren't worth the time. Next time I have the recording gear set up maybe I'll make some comparison samples.

  19. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,879

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by bradinbrooklyn View Post
    ... it just seemed funner to make it from scratch and easier to work with and shape with razorblades and sandpaper. In the end the ones that seem to be hard enough to play with after almost 3 weeks of drying and a few coats of poly wipe actually have a feel, tone and cut I'm very pleased with. And I got about 10 of them from a cup of milk and two tablespoons of vinegar...
    And that right there is where the joy is. You can buy a sheet of material and go to work but when you make the plastic yourself it has to be really gratifying.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  20. #16
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    362

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Man, I admire anyone who has the time to make picks. Maybe when/if I retire. I can barely find time to play a little.
    1933 Gibson A-00 (was Scotty Stoneman's)
    2003 Gibson J-45RW (ebony)
    2017 Gibson J-15

    The Murph Channel
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkomGsMJXH9qn-xLKCv4WOg

  21. #17
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Beautiful Salem County, NJ
    Posts
    1,890

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Hey Brad,

    I always think it's really cool when people experiment and make things on their own. This is a great project and you seem to be having fun with it. I wish you lots of success.

    I would like to offer two suggestions, but they come from limited knowledge of making plastic from casein. Still, here goes.

    We use casein as a fining agent in wine making. This is basically dried fat-free milk but may be a bit more purified. Home winemakers sometimes substitute fat-free milk, but casein as a fining agent is readily available even to home winemakers from any wine making supply store. I pretty much always have it on hand here in the winery and will be glad to send you a little to experiment with, if you are interested (PM me, if you like). Or, you could just go to the supermarket and get a box of dried fat-free milk. That might be the easiest way to try it, but might stick you with excess dried fat free milk if it doesn't work. If you have never drunk the stuff I can tell you that it is truly awful!

    My reason for suggesting this is, you may be able to increase the concentration of the starting casein solution thereby speeding up the drying process or improving some other worthwhile characteristic of the finished product. Maybe better, maybe worse, but one way to find out. Seems like a fun easy experiment though.

    My other suggestion has to do with the brittleness of the product. Can you think of a fine fiber you can chop and add to the mix that might strengthen the final product, but not render the finished surface rough, or act as an irritant to the players' fingers. I wouldn't use something like fiberglass or carbon fiber, but might try a small amount of a plant fiber chopped very fine and added in very limited quantities. How about chopped linen? I am sure there are materials scientists here who can tell you if this is a bad idea, or what might actually work. But I think a small amount of fiber in the mix might help with the cracking.

    Please keep us posted, and good luck!
    Purr more, hiss less. Barn Cat Mandolins Photo Album

  22. #18
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Can you think of a fine fiber you can chop and add to the mix that might strengthen the final product, but not render the finished surface rough, or act as an irritant to the players' fingers. I wouldn't use something like fiberglass or carbon fiber, but might try a small amount of a plant fiber chopped very fine and added in very limited quantities. How about chopped linen?
    This is sort of what Blackbird eKoa material uses. They are using flax fiber in a resin:

    Ekoa is a flax linen fiber and bio-based resin material pioneered by Blackbird and sister company Lingrove. It is lighter than carbon fiber, stiffer than fiberglass and makes a better soundboard than Spruce because of its superior stiffness-to-weight values. Like carbon fiber it is stable under changes in temperature and humidity. Aesthetically Ekoa is very similar to wood with no two pieces being exactly the same— though they are mechanically much closer than wood which can vary even when sourced from the same tree! The flax fibers themselves can exhibit some variegation in fiber orientation, color and visual density. We also do not lay on any clear coat, instead embracing any anomalies as beauty marks. The in-mold finish is a harder wearing surface than clearcoat, offers better tone and has rich natural grain finish in its own right.
    I played one of their early Clara ukes made from that stuff and it sounded amazing. Not sure how it would do for picks and I don't know where you can find flax fibers. Maybe slivered bamboo which I believe is a kind of grass, or else even hemp.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  23. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:


  24. #19
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    362

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Can you think of a fine fiber you can chop and add to the mix that might strengthen the final product, but not render the finished surface rough, or act as an irritant to the players' fingers. I wouldn't use something like fiberglass or carbon fiber, but
    Human hair.

    Spider web.....
    1933 Gibson A-00 (was Scotty Stoneman's)
    2003 Gibson J-45RW (ebony)
    2017 Gibson J-15

    The Murph Channel
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkomGsMJXH9qn-xLKCv4WOg

  25. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,879

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Human hair can be pretty rough and irritating in small pieces but I like the concept.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  26. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  27. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albany Oregon
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Cotton fiber?

  28. #22
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,650

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Not sure how it would do for picks and I don't know where you can find flax fibers.
    You can find flax fiber on Etsy and on Amazon.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  29. #23
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    362

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    You can find Black Widow webs in Arizona......

    ; )
    1933 Gibson A-00 (was Scotty Stoneman's)
    2003 Gibson J-45RW (ebony)
    2017 Gibson J-15

    The Murph Channel
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkomGsMJXH9qn-xLKCv4WOg

  30. #24

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Wow... stepped away for a couple days and the recipe has now evolved into human hair and spider webs... I like where this is going!

    @Bobclark - thanks for the generous offer... I got some skim milk already for a second batch, but will let you know.

    As for the first ones, they all still seem to be holding up ok so far, and possibly even continuing to harden. Fingers crossed. The poly is a little slick, but I think definitely made some difference for the better. a little scuffing with sandpaper in middle and they stay in place fine.

  31. #25

    Default Re: Homemade Casein Picks

    Back at it for round 2 with some skim milk this time. The curds formed into a fresh mozzarella-like ball easily this time but in draining it, the casein was much more crumbly. It may or not have some golden retriever hair in it. Couldn’t resist. Hair of the dog picks? Pretty color if it works out, and certainly easy to find on the floor when dropped.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	C3D90977-3362-4A4A-9F02-B9505BAE7ADF.jpg 
Views:	80 
Size:	616.7 KB 
ID:	190341

  32. The following members say thank you to bradinbrooklyn for this post:


Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •