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…