Vegetable Ivory

July 12, 2008

I would like to try some carving with vegetable ivory.

Used from the 19th century in Europe and America to make buttons, figurines, toys etc. it’s a sustainable alternative to elephant tusk ivory made from the South American tagua nut. Harvesting and carving tagua provides an alternative source of income to cutting down rainforests.

The tagua nut is an extremely hard palm nut so I gather that it’s very difficult to carve by hand, but I think it could be used to make a nice cameo.

UK-based LeJu uses tagua nuts and other tropical seeds to make cool and colourful jewellery.

LeJu necklace - Tigre

LeJu necklace - Tigre


Old stuff

July 4, 2008

I am rather keen on some of the ancient jewellery at the British Museum.

In particular I’m quite partial to stuff made from gold, lapis lazuli and carnelian beads, like this stuff from Ancient Mesopotamia. I’ve never done any beading but it makes me want to try some with semi precious gemstones.

(Beads and pendants from Ur, Southern Iraq, about 2600-2400BC)

(Headdress and necklace, from grave 800, the Royal Cemetery of Ur, Southern Iraq, Early Dynastic III, about 2600BC)

I also like the idea of the fibula. It’s a brooch but also a safety pin. Very practical!

(Two gold fibulae from Maroni, Cyprus, about 1050BC)

and bring back the body chain:

(Gold Body Chain from the Hoxne Hoard – Roman Britain, buried in C5th AD, Suffolk)