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

Just Surfer Girly Things

Since it’s almost the official start of Summer, I figured it’s a good time to share my honest opinion about Surfer Girl related stuff out there in SurfyLand that I’ve personally purchased and/or tried recently. As always, y’all know I’m not sponsored, a “rep”, nor am I worthy of touching Kelly Slater’s bald head. Just an average surfer chick with some info for ya.

N-Joy!

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LOVE: Costa Bikinis

I recently decided to try this company’s swimwear since I really admire some of their team surfers like Keala Kennelly from Hawaii, and Kaydi Archer, who is an extremely charitable and talented local surfer lady who is VERY active with Surfers for Autism. Plus, their suits are made in Spain. You know, I went to a Tapas Restaurant once, so I’m an expert about Spain.

They have a sale going right now, so I picked up 4 pieces for $80 with free shipping. It took a while to receive my package, but the wait was worth it. Reversible construction, nice prints, comfortable to wear, and stays in place when I’m surfing- I’m sold. I can see paying full price for one of these instead of a poorly manufactured, pricier Roxy suit.

Their online shopping area was difficult to use on a mobile platform, however, so I hope that gets worked out soon. As far as sizing- if you’ve got some interesting curves, go for the next size up from your normal size. I was glad I did. On Instagram, they put “costafriends” as a 15% off coupon code- I’m assuming that’s open use, and not a one time only deal, but I can’t confirm.

LOVE: Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Nail Polish

This is my #1 recommendation to all surfer girls who paint their nails or toenails. This particular line has been the ONLY nail polish that will stay on my toenails for a hot minute when I surf. I’ve tried OPI, Essie, Chanel, etc., and none hold a candle to this bargain. I can take the bits of wax stuck to my toes after a sesh, and the polish still stays intact underneath. Even after knee paddling, duckdiving, Rickrolling, etc. this polish can last me almost a week of surfing every day, and still look halfway decent afterwards. Amazeballs.

The best part is you can find it at the drugstore for cheap. Yeah, there’s not a huge selection of colors usually. Get over it. Just stick with lighter shades, use the matching clear topcoat, and stick to only 1 coat of each. Even makes my funky feet look passable. Don’t ever stare at your feet too long….trippy……

LIKE: Sun Bum Deep Conditioning Masque

This is the only time of year I’ll pick this up, since it seems to help with the summer heat and saltwater that dry out my hair. Honestly, I really dig the beachy smell of the conditioner, but it sucked 20 bucks out of the Surf Trip Fund.

This is great to use every Monday morning before work, so you can think of the beach and “bum” yourself out even more when you’re at your desk. Nice.

LIKE: Sand Cloud Towels

I finally broke down and ordered one of these towels. They are expensive for a beach towel (I ended up paying around $40 for mine total), but they are nicely woven and shockingly light.

The first time I used it was to watch a rocket launch on the beach. At first, I wasn’t too jazzed about the braided knotted tassels that finish off each side, but they seem to give the towel a little weight against a windy beach which was a nice bonus.

Mine seems to wash well in warm water even though the tag says hand wash only. Yeah, right. Make sure to use a 25% off coupon when you buy a towel online- it usually consists of a girl’s name (they’ve got loads of “reps”) and the number 25 (example: JANE25, MARY25). Check a coupon code site for one if that doesn’t work.

MEH: Pura Vida Bracelets

Ever since Pura Vida was found to be manufacturing their bracelets in other countries outside of Costa Rica (the whole basis of their sales pitch), they’ve sure had some backpedaling to do (read the Mia Culpa here). So with that, I’ve just been making my own, or opting for 4Ocean Bracelets this summer.

MEH: Rip Curl G-Bomb Front Zip Jacket

I was so disappointed about this one. When I first tried it on, I noticed I had to go waaay up in size compared to other brands, and it was still a bit difficult to get on and off, but the half front zipper’s teeth were covered well (protects from the surf wax). I really wanted that feature, and I was having a tough time finding it on other vests, especially on front full zip jackets.

If only this vest had a slightly larger chest circumference and a full chest zip like a true jacket did. Boo. Instead, I guess we’re supposed to pull our zippers down a little and let the tight torso give us cleavage whilst surfing like a pro, like freakin’ young Alana Blanchard. Mmmkay.

You know, if I ever make a surf wear brand, I’ll call it “Surf Cougar,” for all of us older surf chicks out there who haven’t totally blown out a knee or hip quite yet. Hey, it takes a certain degree of confidence to keep on surfing into the sunset. No apologies, brah.

Binding and Wrapping a Shell Slice

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of purchasing shells, but I will take the exception once in

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Beautiful, but endangered

while if I see something cool at a bead store or at a gem and bead show. Shells have been sold and traded for use in jewelry and adornments throughout our history, so I don’t think selling shells is going away anytime soon. I just like to avoid endangered ones.

I picked up a neato Mitra shell that was cut lengthwise to show the spiral inside the shell. The Mitra Sea Snail is common, but the shell is quite beautiful and unique when polished to show off the patterns and the inside structure.

I thought it would be cool to wrap it similar to how I would wrap and secure a Matau hook style pendant necklace over a cord to stabilize it.

First, I hand braided a Kumihimo cord for the shell pendant using waxed Linhasita thread.

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A simple 4 strand braid with a knotted toggle

Next, I used a little more of the waxed nylon thread to make a series of several half hitch knots over the center of the necklace cord AND over and through one of the voids in the sliced shell to hold both together. I singed and melted the ends of the binding using a Zap-It tool, or you can use a lighter (carefully- and outside!). The knots can still slide along the cord, but the cut edge of the shell can wear on the threads over time, so I like to keep the wrap centered typically. This is another excellent reason to use waxed nylon cord for this type of project.

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The ridge of half hitch knots is on the top side

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It took about 8 half hitches to ensure the shell was securely bound to the cord

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I’m Queen of the MerPeople, you noob

I think it makes a cool surfy necklace, and a little different from the conventional. And NO, I’m not trying to appropriate anyone’s culture- don’t get up in my face about it….

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Hang up the phone. NOW, Princess.