So I had originally planned to do some sort of a turning for earrings but I think that’s been done before. Instead I wanted to go with something a little more organic. Rather than use regular hardwood blanks, I decided to attempt to carve a banksia pod. These woody structures come from a number of species of flowers found in Australia and are commonly used in wood turnings, vases and the like. Their structure is unique to say the least. J I got mine from Rockler Woodworking.
I didn’t use too many tools on this one. If you have a bandsaw and a Dremel, you’ll be all set!
Step 1: Cutting the Pod
Here’s our subject. Begin by putting the entire pod on the bandsaw and slicing off the top until you’re left with a somewhat-regular cylinder. Set your fence and cut a 5/8” disc. Pull the fence back and cut it in half. To change the size or shape of the pods, you could also cut them at an angle or experiment with more ornate profiles. I went as far as trying to preserve as many of the pod eyes as I could. At this point, I soaked them down with polyurethane in order to keep things from breaking and to reduce the dust.
Step 2: Carving...
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I opened the pod, but there are 3 distinct features: the delicate eye structures, a low-mass outer layer, and a hard, woody inner layer. I decided to carve away the outer material, leaving the inner core intact and the eyes springing forth.
With a carving burr on the Dremel, begin by removing as much of the outer layers as you are able, taking care to not hit the eyes. Round over the backs and go by eye until you are pleased with the result.
Once both are balanced, switch to a sanding drum to remove any scratches that remain; you’ll want the focus to be on the structure of the pod and not on any bite marks from the bandsaw.
Spray on a few more coats of polyurethane and make sure every surface is well-covered.
Step 3: Adding Hoops
I pulled some hoops from a set of costume earrings and began to look for a way to attach them. We have a few options:
-Drill holes and add wire loops
-Dremel a notch and glue the dangling links in place
-Glue the links into the eyes
I went with #3 since there was no room to add any more holes and I didn’t want to detract from the carvings. Add a dab of CA glue to the top eyes and drop the links in. I used about 3 layers on each with some accelerator.
Although the finished product is pretty organic, I like the styling from a design perspective. I’d be interested to see how you’re able to incorporate elements like this into other projects.