Do you know the TAGUA seed?

Leonardo

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Same days a go a friend gave me this seed to make it a try.
It is a seed of a Tagua palm tree also called "vegetal ivory". Extremely hard for being a vegetable but easy workable with common tools. I cut it with a metal handsaw and then was sanded and polished before engraving.
I made this pendant for my wife Silvia, but do not look very much at the engraved "S"; I engraved it with a laser.
Best regards, Leonardo.
 

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Billzach

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Leonardo
I brought about 20 of them off ebay a few years ago, but haven,t got around to working with them.
 

Leonardo

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Hey Bill, give it a try! I am sure that you can turn those seeds into a real work of arts carving this amazing natural material.
Try one and post your achievement! Best regards, Leonardo.
 

Andrew Biggs

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Hi Leonardo

Well, you learn something new every day. It's quite amazing what nature gifts to mankind. I've never heard of, or seen these seeds till your post.

It would be really interesting to see what they scrimshawed like. A truly unique thing.........just great!!

Cheers
Andrew
 

Leonardo

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Hi Andrew,

I am quoting here a paragraphs from the site linked above:
"Like elephant ivory, the seeds can be fashioned into all sorts of beautiful objects, from chess pieces, buttons and pendants to knife handles and belt buckles with intricate scrimshaw designs."

Also you can buy the tagua seeds from this site: http://www.nayanayon.com
I have bought some seeds and slices just today!

Best regards, Leonardo.
 
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John B.

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Hi Leonardo,
These seed are available from many sources in the US of A.
And many of the modern day Japanese netsuke are carved from these rather than elephant ivory.
I usually find that they need a good coat of wax or Crazy glue to seal them before scrim and ink
otherwise the ink tends to stain the surface.
But they are a lot of fun and inexpensive to play with and some really nice pieces can be made.
If you carve them you have to be aware of the center core.
I am sure your wife will enjoy the wonderful gift you made for her.
Best regards, John.
 

Brandywine

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Hi,

I have worked with tagua, engraved, carved and pyrography/burned it. I like it alot.

tends to burn if you are using high speed sanding or carving tools on it, so keep the speed down.
Also tagua will produce a bit of tar when it is burned so keep the heat lower than you would for hardwood when burning.

Tagua saws and sands well. I like cutting it with a small bandsaw or hand saw (to keep from burning it with the blade)

Otherwise it is great.

It is hard enough to be forgiving when I slip a little with my tools. It takes dyes fairly well and looks much like Ivory.

The color will become 'antique' or slightly yellow/brown with exposure to sunlight.
Do be careful to seal it if it will possibly get wet as it can degrade.

My workshop environment is 8500' altitude and a very dry climate, so my unprotected tagua stock has begun to dry and crack a bit. Keep your stock in a sealed plastic bag if it is dry.

I am currently exploring different Tagua sources, as the quality can vary quite abit, depending on who is harvesting it. Proper drying is key to good tagua.

Chris
 

Leonardo

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Thank you Chris for your directions.
I have not received my order from Nayá Nayón yet so I cannot tell you anything about the quality until I have it here. Hope it will be of good grade and quality
Best regards, Leonardo.
 
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Jim Sackett

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Nice S Leonardo, I especially like the rose and the very light tint of background. It gives the pendent a softness of a fine etching.

Thanks for the pictures you sent me yesterday I have studied them and keeping them in mind as I work the anniversary plate.

Jim
 

Leonardo

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Thank you Jim, but the nice "S" comes from a Dover illustrations book, so I did not design it.
Regarding the roses pictures, you are welcome. Remember that I have the Corel file ready to be sent to you whenever you need it.
Best regards, Leonardo.
 

Ron Smith

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Leonardo, I have one made up in a beadwork choker I made years ago, but the bean absorbed the ink which makes the scrim hard to see. I didn't know to seal it at the time.

You got an awful nice, clean bright finish on your bean. What did you use to seal yours?

Ron S
 

Leonardo

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Hi Ron!

I did that piece as follow: after cut the seed with a handsaw I sanded the piece with 280, 360 and 500 sandpaper and then did the polishing with a buffing wheel using a fine paste that I regular use to polish acrylics (a white one! LOL). *
Once the piece was polished I burned the “S” with the laser machine. Because the lasered motif was left white in the process and almost invisible because the absolutely lack of contrast, I decide to tint it with black Indian ink.
I think that the polishing paste did the seal, anyway you can see some spots looking through the microscope because the surface, even polished, is not absolutely plain.

* I wrote this because I remembered a joke:

Listen at the computer service help desk:

Phone ring…
Technician: Help desk, good morning.
User: Good morning… I have problems with my PC.
Technician: OK, what computer do you have?
User: A white one…
Technician: silence (praying).

Well Ron, I hope this help and you like the joke!
Kind regards, Leonardo.
 

DKanger

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the bean absorbed the ink which makes the scrim hard to see. I didn't know to seal it at the time. What did you use to seal yours?

Ron,
When scrimming porous materials like bone, I use hair spray to seal it. Hair spray is basically a spray on lacquer. It would probably work on the beans too.

Dave
 

Ron Smith

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Thanks guys,

I worked on ivory pretty exclusively before trying the bean. They said it worked pretty much like ivory, so I took them at their word and went about it just like I would do ivory.......................Oops!!.

I was thinking spray on lacquer would work, or maybe even a flash coat of super glue, but I didn't know that the bean would absorb ink when I did the one I did. Now that the scrim is done, you can't go back and resurface it without having to do the scrim over again. You fledgling scrimmers. Antlers work about the same way. It is better to seal them first before scrimming.

Hey Leonardo, your joke wasn't funny:D I told that technician not to tell anyone about that.............HaHaha

Ron S
 

rod

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Leonardo,

NIce! I have tried these nuts for rings on wood flutes but the interior made them unsuitable for me. They are great, and very tough as you know. I have lots of very old ivory, and many off-cuts from when real ivory rings were standard requests in the 'seventies, and before, but now I use 'alternative' ivory billets from London, as being more politically correct, solid silver, or gold. I wonder if Katherine Plummer has worked with Tagua for some of her scrim?

I still use mammoth, if I can get clear crack-free stock.

By the way, rendered bone is very good, but has that tell-tale large porous cell structure that stands out like a sore thumb, and is a dead giveaway on older items, as the pores fill up with dirt and give it the 'old bone' look. However, hitting the bone surface with superglue before final sanding and polishing will give a lovely "ivory" look that will not show any tell-tale black pores, but, of course no criss-cross grain pattern.

best

Rod
 

KatherinePlumer

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This is interesting reading about the surface preparations for Tagua. I bought some slices a while back (probably about a year ago) and wasn't thrilled with it. For one thing most of them had that crack in the middle and that really disrupts trying to put any sort of nice image on there. But mostly I just didn't care for the surface quality at all and felt that the slices looked "cheap" relative to a nice ivory pendant. Maybe the external surface would have a different feel, I've just not been keen to give it another try, but perhaps I should. :)

Interestingly I've run into very very few people who have any objection to the use of (pre-ban) ivory, and people generally seem really excited about using piano keys ("ooh piano keys, what a great thing to do with them" is a comment I got a lot at an art show last month).

-Katherine
 

Leonardo

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Hi Rod, I bought the Tagua seeds from Nayá Nayón, and have chosen “slice double, quality A” in 6mm thickness. These pieces are almost perfect without defects.
I think that you can do really nice rings from these slices.

Hi Katherine! Nice to “meet” you for the first time. I agree with you on the appreciation about the Tagua perceived value. It is true that it looks cheap (and actually it is) but perhaps it would deserve a try with a more modest project. I mean a simple but nice design that not involve a lot of carving time.
Also agree with you and the other people that your scrimshaw is a great final for a useless ivory piano key.
By the way, I love that Percheron Horse scrimshaw!

Best regards, Leonardo.
 
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