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!)….
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
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
Both of these companies raise money for ocean related charities, which is always a good excuse to buy pretty things, ya know. And by the way, I don’t shill for these companies, I had to buy ’em just like everyone else.
For this project, I used my two 4Ocean bracelets, my Cape Clasp Hammerhead shark toggle (removed from the paracord), scissors, and some Chinese Knotting cord (I used dark green), which is essentially VERY thin nylon paracord. I used a little over 3 yards for this, folded in half. Glue may be handy to secure the finishing knot.
Saving the charms for another project
I made a lark’s head loop over the tail hole and made an overhand knot. I slid a recycled glass bead over both cords, and made another overhand knot, snugging it up against the bead. Repeat until all the beads are gone.
Lark’s head loop over tail
Overhand knot between each bead
For the loop, I took the cords and made alternating half hitches until the loop was long enough to secure over the toggle, then I secured it with a square knot and melted the ends with a lighter (outside!).
Alternating half hitch knots
Done! It came out to around 20″ when it was complete, long enough for a necklace or a wrist wrap.
The Country Club Surfer
A halfway decent strand of Mikimoto’s will set you back several grand, but I figure this hundred dollar DIY set might help out a bit more.