Painting on Tagua Nuts

In my last post, I was carving some Tagua palm nuts to make some neato pieces. Like wood, Tagua nuts can be painted to artsy up a piece even more. I had cut a nice thick piece, and drilled a top hole to hang the slice as a pendant.

Sanded and ready to paint

For this project, I used my acrylic paint pens that I’ve used on my surfboards before. Small paintbrushes and toothpicks come in handy for detail painting too.

The brush on varnish I like to use with the acrylic paint pens I like

The important part is the varnish, though. Tagua is cellulose, so if you want your d’art to stay sharp and not bleed into the nut, put on a couple of thin coats on the surface before you start your creation. I sealed the entire slice before painting.

Once it’s completely dry, I can start painting whatever I want, building up color slowly.

Keeping just an accent

Happy little daisies

I made sure the acrylic paint was completely dry before painting two more thin coats of varnish to seal the piece.

I use my disposable contact lens containers for paint and varnish

I used some yellow Linhasita cord and some olivewood beads to finish this piece off into a necklace:

Happy and bright

Super easy, super fun, and if you hate what you painted, get out the sandpaper and start over. Hopefully the Tagua slice was cut thick enough.

I certainly got comfortable with sanding (not REALLY my arm, just a meme, haha!)….

Dude should’ve waxed before sanding

Tagua Nut Carving

I’ve always had a thing for palm trees, probably since they remind me of tropical places and surfy times.

It’s no surprise, then, that I freakin’ love Tagua nut anything, since it grows naturally from the Ivory Palm Tree.

Tagua was used in the old days like plastic would be used today: buttons, handles, knobs, jewelry, etc. were easily carved from this nut that resembles elephant ivory on the inside. So, after years of collecting various carved Tagua pieces, I had to try out carving some myself. Especially since non-biodegradable plastics seem to be forming islands in the ocean around us, it’s worth checking out for some hippie eco-fun.

I ordered some raw nuts from Etsy for about $1 each plus shipping, so it wasn’t a huge investment. Tagua nut harvesting is one of the few industries that encourages keeping rainforests around a little longer too….super hippie eco bonus.

One of the raw Tagua nuts I ordered

Tagua is supposed to cut similar to wood, so I used those type of tools for woodworking. I used tools like a scroll saw, sanding wheel, and drill bits that I already use for small wood craft projects:

My Dremel scroll saw

Since I didn’t want to saw my fingers off, using a vise was helpful- especially for cutting nice, even slices. You must either use a vise or glue the nut onto a steady block of wood to cut it. It’s just too small to try and line up under the saw with just your fingers….and keep ’em.

The hard rubber jaws of the vise are perfect for this work

Top view of the nut getting ready to be sawed in two

A nut slice…has a small void

Every Tagua nut potentially has a void at its’ center, which is something to consider when carving this. If the Tagua is dried properly during the harvest process, there is supposedly less of a void. So I’ve heard. This batch I received also looks a bit dark on the inside, so this Tagua might be older, but it’s still a beautiful color.

I made sure to cut and grind slowly, since Tagua burns very easily. And you can smell it when it starts to get too hot.

Sanding the exposed surface on the side wheel

Makin’ slices

I used a sanding bit to sand away the surface to make cool patterns

Tagua is delicate! I was too harsh with this piece

Some of the Dremel bits I played with

They polish up like little fancy bits o’ wood

Now, Tagua isn’t waterproof- it’s very porous cellulose, so it’s not a bad idea to coat pieces with a clear sealant. I like the paint-on varnishes better than the spray can type for these. When I tried using the spray can, the varnish left tiny little raised dots all over the surface. Bleh.

Here’s some of my sealed pieces using the better paint-on varnish:

Finished and varnished pieces

Since I already enjoy woodworking, I can totally see myself getting into this tropical craft that’s fun, sustainable, and reminds me of my favorite trees ever….

Christmas lights should be banned in Florida because it’s absurd

DIY 4Ocean Charm Earrings

Remember that necklace/wrap bracelet I made a couple of posts ago? I saved the little silver charms from the 4Ocean bracelets, and I wanted to use them to make some easy fun earrings with basic stuff from the craft store. Ear hooks, a few glass beads, and a couple of eye pins can make a fancy looking pair of earrings. You’ll also need a pair of small round-nose jewelry making pliers (here’s a link to some I found online).

All of my supplies

Adding a charm to the end of each eye pin

Sliding a silver bead, a glass fish bead, then a silver bead onto each eye pin

Preparing to make a loop at the top of each eye pin

I try to match up the same position when I make the loop on each

Done!

Ear selfie

These are a cute way to promote the 4Ocean cause of removing plastics from the ocean, and creating awareness of plastic pollution.

Honestly, though, for surfing the Cocoa Beach Pier, I need more useful earrings. I searched on Etsy and found my dream pair:

OFF MY WAVE WANKER

DIY Surf Wax Soap

Another blog I enjoy reading is Oh Yes They Did! They are Mother/Daughter bloggers in Canada, but that’s forgivable….they do some really cool crafts anyway.

One craft they did a while back was using soap base from the craft store to make your own custom molded soap.

So, I thought it would be neat-o to use my Orange Peel surf wax mold to make some soap too.

I picked up some opaque white Shea Butter soap base from my local Michael’s- with my coupon, I got 2 pounds for around 6 bucks. Not bad. I picked out some additional oils and scents to add in too.

The Orange Peel mold with the soap ingredients

Since the typical bar of of surf wax is between 80 to 85 grams, I used my fun monkey peeler to shave off enough soap flakes to make almost 85 grams, since the consistency is very similar to cold water wax. I bought 2 pounds, so I can make at least 10 whole bars.

Working hard

Yes, I tared it with the mold…

Adding in a bit of coconut oil- you can also use the microwave to melt the wax in the silicone mold

I added a lot of the Lor-Ann flavor to get the smell

Soap poured into the mold

I took the soap out of the mold a few hours later, but I allowed the soap to cure for a few days on some paper towels.

Done!

This could get fun….

Ok, so yeah, I can see where this would make a wicked practical joke on a fellow surfer….not that I endorse such things.

Please report any successes back here, though.

Hey- that’s not sick and twisted, but THIS is. I mean, who thinks this makes the perfect guest soap for your bathroom? Yes, this is actual decorative soap:

Looks so nice above the toilet

Surfboard Fin System Blues

I’ve never been a huge fan of the current surfboard fin systems available.

Everyone’s got a favorite

To the uninitiated, there are basically two big players in the “fin system” market currently: FCS and Futures. They are the iPhone and Android of the Surfboard Fin World, and have superfans who are just as rabid. Once you pick a fin system to go into your board, you’re stuck with fins made for that system. It’s like only shopping at Google Play for eternity. Great.

 

FCS has upgraded their systems recently to allow you to snap in your fin without needing the tiny screws anymore. Supposedly.

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Lost one of my special FCS II compatible quad fins that way during a surf, so now I’m back to the tiny freakin’ screws set into the old crappy plastic box. And these other quads STILL back out on me, causing the fin to begin to lift out of the box. I discovered this happening again the other day:

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This keeps on happening

It’s absolutely absurd to pay this much money for screws that back out, systems that don’t latch, plus the cost of lost fins, which get hella pricey. No wonder FCS has a whole page dedicated to replacement FCS fins. Hmmmm….it’s not because yer a gnar shredda, brah.

Once again, I went back to the online hardware store to find some screws- some call them “grub” screws- a bit longer than the others made of quality 316 stainless steel that are MUCH cheaper than what FCS and Futures sells these for in surf shops.

Link to the screws I bought online here– I don’t get anything for this, it’s just info.

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The ones I ordered are da best since they’re not marked up 1000%

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Share with ya friends, wanker

These still sit flush when screwed in, and maybe they might have a better chance of staying in. And now when I lose one, it won’t cost a fortune. I have some boards that use Futures Fins, which only require one screw, but it’s the same length as the one I ordered, but I believe these are better quality for approximately 10 cents each. Sooooo much cheaper.

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Doesn’t stick out

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I replaced all eight

I really wish these companies would step up their game since they seem to be monopolies in the surfing world, much like Clark Foam was years ago.

The Surf Industry is just like any other industry, though….

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And people take me to the cleaners daily

Shell Jewelry Tips

At one time or another, every surfer (or aspiring surfer) worth their cred tries to make their own beachy shell jewelry. It IS part of our primal urge. In fact, some of the earliest known forms of adornment were pierced shells and teeth on handmade string.

But after an hour after the Upper Paleolithic Revolution has worn off within the surfer, then he or she usually gives up and buys it somewhere.

But if you have a flat day of surf, and you’re

I love Pauly Shore

feelin’ a bit like Encino Man, here’s three tips I’ve found helpful over time when making shell jewelry…

 

 

 

1. Go to a thrift store for shell beads and pendants first.

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A nice shell necklace I found, but it’s too chunky and sharp to wear comfortably as a necklace

I love shell jewelry, but the current shell industry has now over harvested and overbred many species for the trade. I’ll pass on that choice first.

I’ve found MUCH higher quality shell beads among thrift store and vintage finds over purchasing recently grown and cut varieties. I’d rather buy my shells at the better vintage quality whenever possible, rather than contributing even more to the over harvesting problem. It’s kind of how I feel about pearls. Bonus that you can still get a deal at a few thrift stores these days. For now. The beach is always the great option, of course, but you will be drilling these yourself and removing natural items from the beach.

2. Use nylon or wire to string shell beads.

When shells are drilled for sale as beads, rarely is the inside diameter perfectly smooth, unless you pay a premium.

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The drill holes are clean, but at odd angles

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Various types of stringing material I use with shells 

Common shell beads will cut most cotton, hemp, or poly thread like a Ginsu knife. So, get some decent stuff that won’t cut nor fray easily, or your ocean cred probably won’t last da Summer.

Or….I guess you could

Bizarro Hasselhoff

say you sliced that freshie shell anklet you made on a shark’s tooth while saving the Mayor’s kid from the deadly riptide, you Gnar Lifeguard????

You’re welcome.

3. Check your shells for sharp burrs, and file them down before stringing.

I was warned by a lapidary long ago to ALWAYS WEAR A MASK when filing, sanding, or drilling shells. Excellent advice. The calcium carbonate particles are easily inhaled- along with whatever fun stuff that shell has absorbed. Use a bit of water to minimize dust, and go outdoors for the task preferably.

Sharp edges and burrs can often be removed using a decent nail file from the drugstore, a bead reamer from the craft store, or a rotary drill. It’s best to do this BEFORE staring a piece most times. After the piece is finished, it’s difficult to sand some areas typically.

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Keep a supply of water nearby to keep the shell wet while sanding or drilling 

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Various pieces polished and drilled

Enjoy trying out all the types of natural shell, seed, and nut beads available. If you really hate doing it yourself, though, this is a good time to plug my Etsy store where I post my random surfy jewelry (including shells), as well as projects and art I like to do. Surprise. I have an Etsy store. I think it’s mandatory for crafters.

Anywho….shell jewelry is cool since it’s nice to have a reminder that there’s a great big ocean out there and we get to be a part of it, if only for a vacation. I mean, that’s one of the beautiful things about surfing, right? Right???

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I guess you could make a surfer necklace from your sacred gym key

You put da Lime in da Coconut….

I’m not a drinker, but I wanted to take Harry Nilsson’s advice and see if a lime in the coconut would make me feel any better. Except I’ll do it Crafty Surf style.

We had a pile of bark that came off of the coconut palm in the backyard.

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Spring cleanup

Some of the innermost bark can be almost canvas-like, similar to a rough piece of papyrus, but a touch more supple. I thought, why not try and do some bead embroidery on it for kicks?

First, I soaked it in some soap (or Mr. Belvedere’s Gnar Pro Wash works GREAT to disinfect beachy finds). I made sure do this, or critters might eat the work. Yummy.

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I selected a piece that was pliable, but had some density in the weave

I cut a nice sized rectangle of slightly damp bark material to work with. Using a very thin beading needle and fine nylon beading thread, I took glass seed beads and created a lime slice in freehand for kicks.

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Some of the supplies I used

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Making the first few test stitches

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Almost finished

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Beadwork complete!

The bark sewed surprisingly well, and wasn’t all that brittle. It helped working with it slightly damp, and I made sure there was plenty of space to work with. On the down side,  it sheds quite a bit after a while, so I didn’t want to make a lot of elaborate beadwork since handling it too long just shreds it. Also, the bark doesn’t allow for a lot of mistakes- once you’ve punctured it, ya done.

After I completed the lime slice, I tore away some of the edges of the bark to give the piece more texture. I tried not to tear too far…

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Neato

Done!

I don’t know about you, but every time I hear that song, I think of the only two good actresses from this movie:

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The one on the left will always be Rizzo, sorry