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Vegetable Ivory Pendant – Birthday #1

November 8, 2012

I already mentioned that this period of the year is a time of birthdays… I have quite a few female friends being born between end of October and begin of November, and I like to give to some of them a little home-made present… This year, I have three ongoing projects of this kind, which I will post as soon the receivers will get their present (to avoid spoilers) 🙂

So, here is the first one: a pendant carved in Vegetable Ivory…

I’ve lately got quite interested in carving… looking at the results of my experiments with alabaster (see last posts), I decided to start searching for other materials to carve, in order to train myself in this new type of activity. Browsing various forums, I discovered he Vegetable Ivory, that looked like an interesting choice.

Vegetable ivory is the white, very hard inner part of a nut coming from a palm tree from South America. This white substance is hard, but still easy to carve, has a nice organic grain, can be easily polished and has a color and translucency quite similar to Ivory (hence, its name). You get (almost) all the good things of Ivory, without having to kill an elephant. The nuts are generally picked by local cooperatives, left to dry and then sold. This kind of sustainable, fair trade market is also a very interesting aspect of Vegetable Ivory.

So, from the internet, I ordered some nuts, and started experimenting. I discovered that the nuts are easy to clean of their dark skin, but incredibly hard to cut! Since I wanted to make pendants, I tried cutting one in half, and with a small jeweler hand-saw it took ages (and a couple of broken blades). I really need to find someone with a band-saw willing to help me. Beside this “bisection” problem, the material is wonderful to work with… soft enough to be carved with ease, but durable enough to be used for a pendant.

This is my first object. A random curvy, organic shape… I just improvised, drawing in pencil some curves on the blank half-nut and starting carving it. There is a lot of space for improvement, but I am really satisfied with the result.

  1. kelly jo permalink

    That is amazing. Your piece is beautiful!

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