Sea Heart Sea Bean Polishing (aka Gilding the Lily)

We’re already 3 letters deep into Hurricane Season 2017, and many are anxiously awaiting our first hurricane swell out here on the East Coast. Usually, it seems to start churning about August, but there have been a few years where we got an early sneak peek of the Atlantic’s coming swells.

I have sworn off Hurricane surf since the Bertha swell a few years back, after a not-so-fun air drop I had on a wave that was too big for my ability that day. So instead of gearing up for gnarly surf as if I was a teenager with pliable bones, I get into finding stuff that washes in with the storms.

Just a taste of my collection of “treasures”

One of my favorite things to collect are sea beans, especially sea hearts (Entada gigas). Sea hearts are seeds of the Monkey Ladder, a vine that grows in tropical zones in the Caribbean and Central America. Sea heart beans come from the World’s Largest Seed Pod on record- some pods can grow up to six feet!

Sea hearts have been considered lucky, and their ability to be carved and polished like wood have lent to the popularity of it’s use as ornamentation. I wanted to polish one of my sea hearts, just to try it out. Honestly, I think they look just as beautiful in their natural condition, having traveled thousands of miles in the ocean. “Gilding the Lily” sprang to mind as I worked on this little project to remove all that exterior.

Unpolished sea heart

I used a Dremel tool for this project. Some people might put their beans in a rock tumbler to polish them, but I’m going with what I already have.

Sanding drum on a bit- 150 grit

The main goal is to sand off the outermost shiny layer of the bean. This part took about 15 minutes with the Dremel bit, but the result was a very dull bean.

After sanding with 150

The inclusions are gone, but it’s not nearly shiny as before.

Next, for kicks, I used the felt polishing wheel bit on its’ own to buff it up a bit.

After polishing with just the felt

It did get a little shinier, but to help it out I added some polishing compound (jeweler’s rouge) to the felt wheel. Much better result, but it does have a crayon aroma to it…

This rouge Polishing compound came in the Dremel Polishing Kit

Big improvement with the compound

I probably spent about 10 minutes buffing the sea heart with the compound. I was happy with the result.

Unpolished sea heart (left), polished sea heart (right)

You can seal the sea heart with lacquer if you want, especially if you wanted to paint on it. I would recommend sealing it with at least one coat before trying to paint on them, since the bean can be a little porous and do funky things to the paint job.

In my next post, I’m going to show off the polished sea bean using macrame techniques- no drilling, painting or wire work required.

In the meantime, here’s Mr. Bean….

I’m doing this on A1A someday

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11 thoughts on “Sea Heart Sea Bean Polishing (aka Gilding the Lily)

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