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 Surfer Girl Necklace or Wrist Wrap

Sometimes people think of crochet as only hats, scarves, and shawls. Yawn. There’s always fun stuff to make with crochet that doesn’t have to turn out fuzzy and hot, it can even come out beachy and summery.

Bowling a perfect strike

That’s good for here in Central Florida, since it’s already getting up into the 90’s. Hurricanes, anyone?

I used my favorite macrame thread in the world- Linhasita– which is essentially nice waxed nylon cord for this project. I also prestrung all of the beads I wanted to use onto the spool of thread. I used these cool wooden beads from Hawaii (no, someone brought them to me from there- boo…) and various glass E beads, but I needed to decide on my pattern BEFORE beginning to crochet with the beads.

My supplies

Using a 2.5 mm crochet hook, I made a chain of 6 tight chain stitches, strung on a wood bead or group of glass beads, made a loop around them, then repeated the pattern for all the beads.

Chain 6, add some beads. Cooler than a scarf

I ended the necklace with a small loop tied off and melted and sealed using a lighter (outside!) since this is waxed nylon. The other end is a blue recycled glass button as a toggle, so it can also be worn as a wrap bracelet. It makes nice beach wear, since the wood beads are light, and the crochet loops make a lightweight cord.

The blue glass disk is the toggle closure

This is something boho-hippie stylin’ and fun to make using the most fundamental of crochet stitches. And it’s wearable when it’s 100 degrees outside.

Hey, I could have shown you how to crochet something else Ocean themed that’s a lot worse…

The Problem with Single Use Plastic

Unfortunately, I end up snagging some form of plastic trash from the water or off of the beach just about every time I go for a surf. In fact, last week, I pulled an empty bottle of bleach completely labeled in Spanish that was covered in barnacles. I wonder how far that may have travelled. If there was a note inside, the bleach ate it up.

My good friend Scrappy Yoga works with

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This is just a trashy issue, no matter what party you’re in

environmental groups and surfers trying to eliminate single use plastics from the chain. They just had a Press Conference in Santa Cruz, California, and it is one of those issues we can all get behind:

SURFERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGE CALIFORNIA LEADERS TO REDUCE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC POLLUTION

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I get this filled for only a buck

Being a Southern Girl, I am a rabid Diet Coke drinker, but I use a large reusable Big Gulp container with a reusable straw. Not only is it MUCH cheaper to get a refill at a convenience store, I never have to worry about throwing away straws or cups EVER. Most fast food places let me use this too, I just pay for the large drink, and fill ‘er up. There’s really no excuse, kids. And now I’ve got a place for all my Gnar stickers that no longer fit on the surf mobile. More surf cred??? Schweet.

On an old blog post, I made some surfboard art out of bits of plastic I found all over the beach,

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Shades of eternity

mostly around Cape Canaveral, even up into the Canaveral National Seashore unfortunately. Just that little project alone reminded me that just because I put that little plastic straw or fork in the wastebasket, doesn’t mean it evaporates into thin air…

 

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Or a cockroach 

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.

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

Jan Brady’s Lucky Tiki Necklace

So, I hope you’ll agree with me that the best trilogy ever made wasn’t Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, but The Brady Bunch Hawaii Triology.

Greg’s da MAN at EVERYTHING that’s HOT

The thrilling storyline surrounds a big ass tiki necklace

I think Bobby always had adjustment issues

that Bobby finds at his Architect Dad’s construction site, but this necklace proves to be “bad luck” for the wearer. No doubt. It looks like they’re wearing a brick.

img_9315Jan Brady, usually the unluckiest of the clan, never gets a turn with this unfortunate soap-on-a-rope tiki necklace. So here’s my smaller, more feminine, and luckier tribute to Jan that can be worn in the surf or shower with no worries about rust. And you won’t bust your hip at hula either….just sayin’…..Alice…..

Did she still have to cook while on vacation?

I got this bone carved tiki man down in Key Largo years ago at a bead store that has sadly closed. For this necklace, I’m using the cord I made in my last post, a 4 strand braid.

I had a few flat disk toggles to choose from: a flat drilled bone disk, recycled glass, and a polymer clay one I made myself. I decided on the bone one for this project.

Bone, recycled glass, and polymer clay toggles

Next, I ran the end of the cord through the toggle and made a stopper knot:

After trimming off the excess, I singed the end with a lighter since this was made with nylon cord (do this outside- it’s smelly).

Melted the knot to secure

Next, I measured out how long I wanted the necklace (16 inches) plus an inch and 1/2 to make a loop for the toggle closure.

Doing the wrapping with nylon thread

Using C-Lon thread, I used a nautical knotting technique called whipping to finish the loop. Whipping takes some patience- especially when it’s with thread, so it good to practice a lot.

Whipping completed

After I trimmed the ends, I made sure to melt those ends as well to secure. Use a dab of jeweler’s glue if using other materials (double check for compatibility).

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Waterproof toggle complete

I wanted to secure the tiki man right in the center of the necklace, so I used the black C-Lon thread again to make a stitch into the braided cord and start looping over the cord and through the top angled hole of the tiki. I used a small knitting needle to leave some space between the cord and the top of the pendant.

Wrapping the thread around the cord

After removing the knitting needle, I did more whipping and made a vertical post, giving it extra security. I trimmed the ends and singed them with the lighter.

Whipping the post

Done!

Part of wants to me wants to wear it, but part of me is scared I might see this guy if I do….

Vincent Price was in this trilogy and made it SUPER creepy too. Remember him???