Sea Heart of the Ocean Necklace

In my last post, I practiced polishing a Sea Heart sea bean. Now that it’s finished, I wanted to be

The Sea Heart I polished last time

able to wear it, but I didn’t want to drill into it or paint it. This will keep the piece as natural as possible.

To make my necklace, I used a macrame technique called Bezeling. The sea bean is thick, so I needed to make sure the bezel wrap would hold the sea heart securely. To make my ladder, I used two strands of light tan Linhasita macrame cord spaced 1 inch apart. For the alternating lark’s head knots, I used a dark green color strand.

I used a macrame foam board and lots of t-pins to keep things straight

Close up of the lark’s head ladder in work

I had measured the circumference of the sea heart to estimate the length of my ladder. I erred on the short side so I can “stretch” it over the edges of the sea bean to secure it using a bit of tension. I tied the ends together using a few square knots, and I melted the ends of the excess cord with a lighter (please use it outside- it’s a smelly process).

Tying the ends up around the bean- this was quite tricky

I singed the ends, leaving just two long strands to use for my necklace

Next, I used the 2 long cords remaining to make my necklace. I tied on 2 dark brown pieces to each light tan cord, and made a half hitch sinnet for a few inches, then braided the rest to the end. I did the same with the other side.

One side of the necklace

Completing each side of the necklace with a braid

For clasps, I used a carved tagua nut hook set that was drilled vertically, so I could thread the cord into each hook, and knot the ends off. This method doesn’t require any glue, but I did singe and melt the cord ends.

Tagua nut clasp

Finished necklace

With this very basic type of bezel wrap around my bean, it’s pretty secure. However, I’m probably not going to wear it while surfing though, just to make sure it doesn’t pop out. It is totally waterproof, however. Gnar.

That model needs a LOT of photoshop…..

I think it looks really cool, but it is a LARGE piece, so maybe only on special beachy occasions. Otherwise, you can call me Flava Flav of Cocoa Beach. Boiiiiiiiiiii.

My Hero.

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

DIY Natural Surf Wax

One of my most popular posts on my old site! Enjoy!

Originally published by me on 15 March 2013 on Blogger.

I’ve kind of surprised myself I haven’t done this craft yet. Making natural (non paraffin/petro) wax is pretty simple, but honestly, the natural wax I’ve bought it the past has been really soft and not very good, so I’ve shied away from trying it myself.
After looking around on the internet for a recipe to try, I noticed a couple of things. First, the natural “organic” wax recipe is almost always comprised of two ingredients: beeswax and coconut oil. Secondly, the ratio is usually two parts beeswax, and one part coconut oil.
Now, I’m no expert, but coconut oil is kind of a runny semi solid. BUT, it’s cheaper in volume than beeswax, which can be quite expensive. This probably why I’ve gotten natural wax that’s so soft- too soft because the ratio was too low due to cost, which I can understand if you’re selling it.
In this case, I’m making it for my own use, so I wanted to make something that works imagefor me, and that would work better for warmer waters, like what’s here in Florida.
First off, I had to think ahead to how I wanted to measure out the 2 ingredients. Beeswax typically comes in a solid bar form. Coconut oil, of course, can be measured out in liquid teaspoon or tablespoon measurements. If I wanted to be able to measure out the beeswax in the same form, I would have to melt it down first, transfer it into a measurement cup, transfer any remainder to a heatproof container that would release the wax later, then transfer the wax from the measurement cup back to the double boiler that I’m melting it in. All this while, I’m hoping that the wax isn’t producing a skin, and that I’m transferring ALL of the wax from container to container to ensure reasonable accuracy.
Whew. What a pain.
Instead, why not use the density of beeswax to calculate the equivalent liquid measurement to the weight in grams, so I can weigh it out while it’s still solid? Better.
I used this website to reference the density of beeswax for my calculation to convert the solid equivalent to a liquid equivalent so I’d have “apples to apples”. I chose a much higher ratio to use for the recipe, and did the ratio as straight up liquid to liquid, not relative densities of the beeswax to coconut oil.
Bored.
Anywho, this is what I came up with for a goodly batch of wax:
     160 grams Beeswax
2 US tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Okay, so here’s the good part…..
I bought a 1 pound block of pure beeswax (I’m doing another project with beeswax, so I bought extra). Online, this cost me $14, but the shipping was free, and I’m going to use around half of it. You can also find beeswax in the candlemaking section of any craft or hobby store. Nope, it ain’t cheap. I also got a jar of coconut oil from the grocery store- I had to ask somebody where it was, it varies. You can also find this at the health food store. That cost about $5, but I’m only using two tablespoons of the jar.

image

Using a food scale to measure out the beeswax

To measure out the wax, I used a serrated knife to cut off chunks and weigh them in a food scale.

Using a double boiler pan I got for cheap at Ikea (if I’d have waited, I probably could’ve gotten one at Goodwill), I used a large pot filled with boiling water underneath, and I melted the wax down. Don’t put any water in the upper pan with the wax! I really should have chopped the wax into smaller pieces to help the wax melt a bit faster.

To stir the wax, I used a wooden chopstick, and once the wax had completely melted, I was ready to add the coconut oil. I measured it with a tablespoon measuring spoon and put it directly into the pan.

I stirred just a bit more to ensure the mixture was even and was melted into each other. Then, it was ready to pour. For fun, I used a silicone fish ice cube tray (also an cheap Ikea score) and a couple of aluminum small tart tins.

After only about five minutes, the wax was getting pretty firm in the ice cube tray. The tart tins were taking a little longer.

Just to make sure, I let them set for a good 45 minutes, just to be overly safe. I think they harden up much quicker, really.

You can see that I got a couple of bars and a whole bunch of fish out of it. The fish shapes are actually pretty handy to handle when applying the wax.

I tested the wax on my board and it actually creates pretty good bumps, and works pretty well with some stick to it, much better than the other natural waxes I’ve used in the past. I think this ratio may be a winner. I still admit I like my traditional wax, but it’s kind of neat-o to make your own.
Now I feel compelled to munch on a bag of Goldfish crackers.

Florida Palm Branch Christmas Tree

It never feels like the traditional holidays down here in Florida. No snow, no 20 degree temps (usually), and palm trees everywhere. I still wouldn’t trade living here for anything, so I wanted to embrace it by making a Florida Christmas Tree.
Many palm trees down here produce inflorescence, which looks kind of like a little branch with fruit protruding from the heart area of the palm:

From davesgarden.com- Palm inflorescence on the tree

I took the dying inflorescence off at the base of one of our big palms and let it dry out for several days. This results in a little tree shape that is quite sturdy. I took a mason jar and filled it with local beach sand and “planted” it. I also added some local shells around the top for some added flair.
I decorated the tree with lots of ornaments, ribbons, and LED lights. It really holds quite a bit, and has lots of little branches to hang things from.
Here’s my decorated “tree”:

It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas!
 
 
 

Super easy and Florida Festive!