In 1996, my father and I visited the Trinity Test Site at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. It was there that, on 1945-7-16, the world's first man-made nuclear explosion occurred. Regardless of one's feelings about nuclear war (Dad and I, like most sane folk, are opposed), the site is a fascinating bit of political and scientific history, and is host to an absolutely unique artifact, the mineral specimen known as Trinitite. Trinitite is sand which has been fused into a greenish glass by the heat of plutonium fission. Although collection of trinitite is technically forbidden, it is quite common for people to do so. In point of fact, having recently read Douglas Coupland's then-timely Generation X (which features the substance), I visited Trinity with the primary intention of collecting some.
Trinitite, like Trinity itself, is still mildly radioactive. Although this radioactivity is extremely low-level, it's not the sort of thing you want to have under your pillow while you sleep.
With the possibly of under-pillow storage sadly extinguished, I decided a wall-mounted display would be appropriate, and so I made the brass-and-aluminum-plated wooden plaque pictured at the top of this page. All parts were hand-cut and -polished. Rub-on transfer lettering was also applied by hand. The clear window over the Trinitite itself was cut from the side of a detergent bottle. Access to the display compartment is through the reverse face. The finished plaque was presented to my father on Father's Day, 1997. Several good pieces of trinitite remained, however, and after several years I made a smaller, crappier version (below) to display them in my own home.
Eventually, however, I became dissatisfied with the quality of the workmanship on the second plaque and sold it, sans trinitite, on eBay. Its contents were transferred to a small foam-padded plastic case, below, and are now displayed on top of a bookcase.