I make canes and walking sticks out of unusual and fancy woods and this is my version of a wood worker's Faberge' egg made from the dried seed pod of a Banksia flower. It is very organic compared to the original intricately jeweled treasures, but I wanted to incorporate materials that are not usually seen in this context. Mother Nature has created some beautiful and intricate designs and many of them are ignored in our daily routine as we rush through our tasks. I have taken a simple object which could be considered trash and bejeweled it to create a whimsical, fancy object. The egg sits on top of a stand made from Manzanita Burl. The egg can be can be fastened on top of a shaft to be used as a cane or walking stick. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did in creating it.
The lighting in this photo makes it makes it look like a petrified pine cone full of amber. Maybe something pre-historic will emerge from it.
Step 1: Prepping the Banksia Pod
I selected the widest banskia pod for this project since the pod has a lot of soft, unstable material outside of the hard core, there is about 40% waste. This pod was approximately 8" Long x 4" Diameter. Clean out the seed holes from any debris, just in case there are rocks or other hard items that the tools may not cut through. You may find some seeds and if you are into horticulture, you can grow these.
Step 2: Cutting the Banksia Pod
The inner core of the pod is quite strong even if there are a lot of holes from the seeds. You will need to get to this core by removing the soft, unstable material on the outside. For a flat surface cut off the ends of the pod with the band saw (approximately 1"). If unsure, you can cut off 1/2" slices until you get to the core. Remember it's best to cut off smaller pieces as it's difficult to replace if you cut off too much.
With the stem end up, you now have a flat surface for the foot of the egg.
(If you are only making an egg to sit on a shelf, you can skip this step.) I also need the flat surface to drill a hole, since I am making the egg to use as a cane handle it needs to have a dowel or fastener. Using first a 1" Forstner bit I drilled 1/4" deep, then using a 3/8" Forstner bit I drilled the length of the coupling screw. This hole is made for a brass coupling so I can screw it on to the shaft securely and it will be hidden inside the egg (handle) and shaft. Note: If you do not need the top to be removable, you can use a dowel to fasten the handle to shaft instead of the brass coupling.
Step 3: Shaping the Pod.
Now the pod has a flat bottom to sit on. You can cut off some of the top end of the pod to make it more proportionate to the egg shape you are aiming for. Using a coarse grit (40+/-) I shaved off the soft outer material until I get to the inner core. You can remove more outer material with a band saw to save time, but be careful, as the pod has a lot of holes and the blade can shift.
Once you get close to your desired shape, use a higher grit (80) to remove less material and start shaping to your final size.
Step 4: Bejeweling the Pod.
Clean the pod holes of debris and place a 1/2" square piece of foil inside each hole. This will be a backing for the filler and it will reflect light. Make sure the foil is not pushed too far in to the hole or it will not be seen.
Step 5: Filling the Pod Holes.
You can now fill the pod holes with a clear, colored resin. I used a hard wax filler that melts when heated. Epoxy can also be used but will take longer to cure. Make sure the holes are filled and no air bubbles surface and your foil is not pushed back too far into the hole. Use a piece of crumpled foil to hold the egg in place and allow your filler to set before turning. Otherwise your holes of gook will drip.
Allow the filler to set hard and sand with 100 grit sand paper to remove excess filler.
Step 6: Manzanita Wood Egg Stand
Using Manzanita Burl, I cut a triangluar piece approximately 3" by 1 1/2" thick. I drilled a center hole to use for a dowel to keep the egg in place and as an option to use as part of the cane. I shaped the stand using wood files and sanding tools (Sanded with 80, 100, 180, 220, 320 grit).
Step 7: Finishing the Egg
Finish the egg and egg stand with a coat of Tung Oil or Polyeurethane. Allow to dry thoroughly before touching. Display and enjoy.
Note: Since I have made the egg and stand to use as a cane, I plan to assemble them on to a shaft of Purpleheart and take my egg for a walk in style!