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

Turtle Tracks Macrame Bracelet

Loggerhead Turtle

Here in Central Florida, it’s early sea turtle nesting season, so turtle tracks going up the beach can be seen in the mornings around the full moon. Turtles will lay their eggs in the sand towards the dune and cover them in sand. Then, they slip back into the ocean during the night, using the moonlight as a guide.

We are lucky to still have a few turtles left around here because our local conservation agencies do a fantastic job marking nests, so people won’t trample on them hopefully. Loggerhead turtles seem to be the most common off the coast of Brevard county, but I have seen a nice-sized rarer Kemp’s Ridley when I was out paddleboarding a few summers ago.

Check out the Sea Turtle Conservancy for info about sea turtles, and things you can do to help them to keep nesting for a little while longer.

Chaos happens when you leave lights on beachside

Like you could turn off your freakin’ condo lights if you live on the beach so it won’t confuse hatchlings navigating back into the ocean. The Condo Boogeyman’s not coming to take your pills, Grandpa- turn the damn balcony light off.

Anywho, since hatchlings should make tracks that go straight into the ocean, I made a fun Macrame bracelet using some basic knotting techniques that reminds me of a turtle egg and nice straight tracks. Check out the picture tutorial below, and use this knotting guide I made as a reference:

Macrame Knots Guide by Crafty Surf

Linhasita (or C-Lon cord) a flat cut cowrie shell, and some olivewood beads

Make a lark’s head knot though one side of the shell using about 2 yards of each color, folded in half

Use a T-Pin on foam or cork to keep your holding cord straight

Do 3 double half hitches across the green cord, doing 1 double half hitch on each color

Put a T-pin in and rotate the cord to the other direction and do the same knotting pattern, going back and forth

By using T-pins, I could keep the rows tight and straight across

Braiding the remainder, adding an olivewood bead, and making a secure knot. Now do the same on the other side of the shell!

Bringing both ends together to make a sliding adjustable knot

Making the adjustable knot by making a few square knots over both bracelet ends

Clip and melt the ends. Done!

This is always the “bracelet selfie” angle Pura Vida does

Please remember that sea turtles are not pets, Disney characters, and are not there for your fun-filled family entertainment. Please respect what tiny bit of space they have remaining.

This ain’t Disney, and you ain’t Snow White

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???

Nautical Style: 4 Strand Kumihimo Braid

One of the most fun crafts I do is Kumihimo disk braiding. It’s very useful to know if you’re into watersports or the nautical/beach scene, since you can craft a lot of useful and fun stuff out of these type of braids. I use these frequently for cords on my Hei Matau and shark tooth pendants since they look nice, are very durable, and don’t require metal clasps (metal doesn’t do well over time in saltwater).

These days, it’s easy to find tutorials on 8 strand Kumihimo, but sometimes that can get a little thick for a necklace cord, even in hemp thread or Linhasita thread. So I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on doing your own 4 strand round braided cord to show off your own cool small to medium sized beachy finds or creations.

Most craft stores these days carry basic Kumihimo disks- or you can make one. I think it makes a better looking cord if you use a foam disk because the tension is better. A weight helps too, but is not necessary for these type of cords, since you can pull them taut later. But, the consistency is better with a weight though. Made mine with a screw, alligator clip and some washers (so I can adjust the weight depending on the material).

So, check out the picture tutorial I’ve got below using Linhasita thread in red, green, dark blue, and tan. Just follow the movement of the colors around the disc to see each movement. Repeat Steps 1-7 until the cord is the desired length.

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Tie four strands together that are each 1.5 to 2 times longer than you want your finished cord to be

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Set up your threads on the right side of every dot and attach the weight under by the knot if you use one

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Keep repeating these steps until your cord is finished.

I used earthy colors to make some cords to use:

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A ball of hemp twine and spools of waxed nylon cord

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4 Strand Braid in Hemp (top) and Linhasita (bottom)

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All the different pendants I can use this cord with

Ok, so I’ve already got a project ready for this cord, and it feels like a classic Brady Bunch trilogy is coming on…..

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I know! My wipeouts are DA BEST

Surfer’s Jewelry Tray Pattern

It’s been super mega frosty here in Florida lately. The water has been extra cold this season, hovering right around 60 degrees F, which is right at my tolerance level limit in a 4/3 wetsuit. I’ve surfed in 55 degree water before, and it felt like tiny needles on my hands when I paddled. More motivation for me to NOT wipeout. I lasted for a whole TWO waves before I needed to bathe in some hot soup.

In winter, I have to remember to take all of my jewelry off, including my wedding ring. Cold water will cause you to lose a priceless ring faster than you can say “Shark!” Ask a few surfers- they’ll have stories. Not going to embarrass anyone in particular, but I did learn to take my jewelry off from hearing their stories. And around here, the littoral drift means you’re probably not getting it back.

So I wouldn’t forget where I left my stuff when I get back home from surfing, I made a simple little jewelry tray with some waxed Linhasita cord and some simple crochet techniques. This little basket could also be done in fine hemp, but it won’t shape and hold up as well as the waxed cord will.

Here’s the pattern I came up with if you’re so inclined….

Surfer’s Jewelry Tray Pattern

Made in continuous rounds. I crochet tightly, so I used a 2.0 mm hook for this project with the Linhasita, but you may want to size up or down, depending on how “nautical” looking you want it. The firmer crochet in a tan/sand gives it a fisherman’s basket look. To me.

This is also a good reference for using this type of pattern: Crochet Abbreviations

1st Rnd: 10 sc in Magic Ring (10 st)

2nd Rnd: Make 2 sc in first sc from 1st rnd, place a marker in the first sc in this rnd. Make 2 sc in next sc in rnd, and in every sc around. (20 st)

3rd Rnd: Make 1 sc in the first sc (place marker), 2 sc in the next sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (30 st)

4th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 2 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the third sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (40 st)

5th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 3 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the fourth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (50 st)

6th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 4 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the fifth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (60 st)

7th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 5 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the sixth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (70 st)

8th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 6 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the seventh sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (80 st)

Now, here we’ll start making the sides of the Tray. I’ll crochet just a hair more loosely on the sides, allowing some stretch.

9th Rnd: Make 1 sc in FLO of first sc. Repeat this for the entire rnd. (80 st)

This round makes the base for the side.

10th-14th Rnds: Make 1 sc in BLO of first sc. Repeat this for the entire rnd. (80 st)

Bind off, weave in ends.

Shape the tray, hand pressing the bottom flat and hand shaping the sides outward.

Starfish Accent

I riffed off of the original motif pattern which can be found at this website, or you can check out my other Motif post.

I used a bit of fishing line to sew the motif onto the tray, like it’s going up the side.

Ready to use! I put my 4Oceans bracelet in the pic. If you buy a bracelet, they claim they pull 1 pound of trash out of the ocean.

WHOA…..what if MY pound they pulled contained 100 surfers’ lost wedding rings? I want in on that action, so I bought one of these bracelets. Just waiting for a call when I win my pound of trash.

What? That’s not how it works?

DIY Outdoor Patio Coasters

One of the best things about being a crafter is that there’s always something in the “job jar.” Since we had the recent hurricane, pushing us all indoors for a spell, it was a good time to knock out a few crafts. Now that the power’s come back on reliably, I can share some with y’all on here.

I figured my patio would be used often after the hurricane passed and left us without power, so I’ve been wanting to make some outdoor coasters that wouldn’t break. They also needed to absorb some condensate from iced drinks, and look kinda beachy also.

Hemp was a good choice for this since it’s a little sponge in a way, but dries out quickly outside in the Florida heat. Plus, they won’t break apart if I drop them on my pavers. Bonus.

I also wanted some color, but color dyed hemp can fade unevenly. To add color subtly and to minimize uneven fading, I decided to crochet a strand of one color of super colorfast Linhasita macrame thread in with my hemp, with a contrasting color on the outer circle. I chose colors to complement my Surf Tee Pillows.

Burgundy, Yellow, and Purple fiesta siesta

All this pattern is, is one big circle made with single crochets (triple quadruple axel crochet for the Brits..hehe). Soooo frickin’ easy, even I got-r-done!

Get da free .PDF pattern here—> 

Outdoor Patio Coasters


No more drippy condensate!

I made these oversized, since I drink A LOT of Diet Coke. When the local convenience stores start to reopen, I’m back to my large fountain drinks, so I need a coaster that can handle the load…..

This was sooo me before Hurricane Irma