June 03, 2011  |   Blog, Delphine's Picks   |   0 Comments

About 2 years ago I came across a bead store in Jacksonville, FL that had a bowl of fun colored nut slices.  I learned that these were called Tagua (Tah Wah) Nuts and are the same consistency of ivory from elephant tusks.  I purchased four of them because I was too indecisive of which color I wanted.  With a new sense of excitement and inspiration, I quickly created “Caribbean Cool,” “Strawberry Milk, ” and “Coconut Milk.”  That was the beginning of my Tagua Nut Jewelry.  Then I stepped up my design abilities quite a bit and created my very first “Twisted Tagua Nut” style by producing “A Bold Statement.”  It took me two days to figure out how to complete it with the best aesthetics and equal stability.  My “Twisted Tagua Nut” style has become my signature design.  I have learned to speed up my work from two grueling days to a couple to few hours on each creation.  I relish the Tagua Nut background of these jewelry pieces because it becomes the catalyst to my color/stone inspiration.  Every time I look at one of these sliced nuts, I already envision what I want to make with it.  There is a sort of intuitive connection into my artwork when it comes to these great smooth nut slices.  I soon began stocking up any time I came across a bead store that carried these items and further began searching the internet for the best supplier there was.  I believe based on the integrity of each Tagua Nut slice I purchase, that I have indeed found them.

Another signature design I have recently come up with is my Tree of Life Necklaces, plus other custom drawn wearable works of art.  Creating Tagua Nut jewelry has become a necessary ingredient to my continuing success as an artist, and I am quite happy to identify some of my greatest works of wearable art as Tagua Nut jewelry.

Creating Tagua Nut jewelry, uniquely in my own individual way has allowed me to express myself within the jewelry medium in a much more expanded way.  Being an integral component of my aesthetic expression now, I’ve decided it imperative that I learn more than just the basic verbally-passed knowledge about this unique plant product.  After reading several informative pages about Tagua Nuts and the ivory palm that it is derived from; it is surprising to learn that Tagua Nuts were used to produce approximately 20% of buttons in the early 1900s before cheap plastic was introduced, while they brought Ecuador alone nearly $5 millions annually from the U.S. and Europe.  That is pretty impressive considering the minute costs of items back then.

Tagua Nuts have also been used to carve figurines, create beads and jewelry, and manufacture other small items that are best created from a completely cellulose basis.  They are even being used in the making of bagpipes now.  While the popularity of Tagua Nuts has declined as a widespread manufacturing component, it has increased its likeability with craftsmen and artisans.  This makes for a pretty phenomenal situation economically for many South Americans while it also protects the highly endangered elephants from being slaughtered for their ivory tusks.  Not only does the use of Tagua Nuts save elephants, but these palm plants are harvested in the rainforest throughout South America which leads to protecting these lands from deforestation due to a need of another economical means to making a living.  In fact in just one Tagua Nut harvesting company alone, nearly two thousand workers are employed simply to get the nuts ready for export.  The additional employment opportunities and rainforest preservation is an excellent reason to invest in this eco-friendly product, which I am all for contributing to!

Tagua Nuts are gelatinous in nature as they are ripening and it takes between a 6 weeks to a few months to dry the fruit of the ivory palm out in order to harvest the nuts as usable cellulose products.  Once dried they become very hard and are able to be died, while the natural color of the nuts are anywhere from white to ivory cream.  An adult ivory palm tree produces around 30 large fruits which can take between 3 to 8 years to fully mature.  There are several nuts inside each fruit.

I plan on continuing to expand my artistic creations to the best of my creative capacity.  In doing so, I look forward to finding new ways to incorporate this sustainable, renewable, great source of income/ecological protector found in the rainforests of South America.  Though they are beautiful as they are, I am excited to continue building them up into new gorgeous works of wearable art with other complimentary elements of the earth.  Tagua Nuts are just one of the great reasons I am able to create my wearable art with “Organic Style and Natural Beauty.”