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
Remember that necklace/wrap bracelet I made a couple of posts ago? I saved the little silver charms from the 4Ocean bracelets, and I wanted to use them to make some easy fun earrings with basic stuff from the craft store. Ear hooks, a few glass beads, and a couple of eye pins can make a fancy looking pair of earrings. You’ll also need a pair of small round-nose jewelry making pliers (here’s a link to some I found online).
All of my supplies
Adding a charm to the end of each eye pin
Sliding a silver bead, a glass fish bead, then a silver bead onto each eye pin
Preparing to make a loop at the top of each eye pin
I try to match up the same position when I make the loop on each
These are a cute way to promote the 4Ocean cause of removing plastics from the ocean, and creating awareness of plastic pollution.
Honestly, though, for surfing the Cocoa Beach Pier, I need more useful earrings. I searched on Etsy and found my dream pair:
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.
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.
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…
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of purchasing shells, but I will take the exception once in
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.
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.
The ridge of half hitch knots is on the top side
It took about 8 half hitches to ensure the shell was securely bound to the cord
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….
As a crafter who likes ocean related stuff, I’ve always been drawn to the natural look of pearls. It’s got to be the “Little Mermaid” fantasy, with the mermaid chick sporting her shimmering green tail, shell pink bra, and always present choker of pearls.
You’ll never unsee this
Pearls are the only gemstone created by an animal, usually a type of oyster (saltwater pearls) or mussel (freshwater pearls). On the Mohs’ Hardness Scale, the pearl rates about 3.5 (can be scratched with a coin), so it’s fairly soft in comparison to other gems. Because of this, pearls are most commonly used in necklaces, as opposed to rings or bracelets, which must be able to endure harsher wear.
For many beaders like myself, freshwater pearls can be affordable to use in projects. They make nice, beachy looking jewelry as well. Cultured freshwater pearls tend to be a little more misshapen since they are almost entirely made up of nacre with a very small starter seed at its’ center. Cultured saltwater pearls, however, tend to be a thinner, more uniform veneer of nacre over a much larger starter seed inserted into the bivalve. The Wikipedia on cultured freshwater pearls is very interesting, and worth a read.
I used dyed cultured freshwater pearls in this necklace
I’ve been pearl knotting for years, and it’s a nice skill to learn, albeit very tricky. Pearls strung on silk need to be restrung about every decade (depending on wear), so knowing how to CAREFULLY string and knot delicate pearls can be a nice side gig. Here’s a great tutorial on the proper way to restring and knot pearls well. Pearls are usually knotted to prevent them from rubbing against each other and losing their luster. With knotting, it’s practice, practice, practice. Because of the soft nature of pearls, you have to become a patient knotter….and unknotter. It can feel a little surgical at times.
Tip: Knotting using thicker cord and big, cheap plastic beads at first will help you get a feel for how everything should lay and look before you try it on tiny, delicate pearls!
Personally, I like to use nylon cord for stringing and knotting instead of silk (unless I’m restoring a piece) because it’s far more durable and has less stretch over time. You can buy small cards of nylon or silk with needles already attached, which means you don’t need to double your thread. Bonus. There’s also a few knotting tools which help greatly as well.
By mixing colors, and spacing the pearl grouping an inch apart, it made the necklace more beachy, and less stuffy
Handmade cultured freshwater pearl necklaces can be wearable and casual enough for everyday if you design them with a few things in mind:
Use pearls with irregular shapes for an organic look.
Avoid using all white pearls unless you’re channeling Donna Reed.
The greater spacing between pearls, the more casual the piece appears.
Combine multiple sizes and colors of pearls to avoid a standardized appearance.
Use contrasting or coordinating color knotting cord to accentuate the pearls.
Try out your hand at this skill and get your inner Mermaid on….