A Tagua nut hummingbird and the nativity set.
This gentleman made us a button. Until WWII most buttons were made from Tagua Nuts, then plastic took over the business, this is when a new use had to be found, thus the beautiful carvings.
The owner of this shop made this little jar. After shaping it she polished it with emery paper and shined it with some of the shavings from the nut.
The nut is placed on a lathe type machine and different tools are used to shape it.
The seed is extracted and the outer shell is removed.
Inside these large nut clusters are the individual seed pods that are used for the carving.
While in Baños we stopped at two Tagua Nut shops. They do lots of carving of the nuts here and there are some beautiful pieces in the shops. The owners gave us a demonstration of working with the nuts. They are harvested from a palm tree, we saw several truckloads of the nuts on our journey to Esmeraldas, and then brought here to carve. They also extract oil from the nut but I am not sure what it is used for. Tagua nuts are known as vegetable ivory. When they are polished they look very much like ivory. Most of the carvings are small, larger ones require several nuts to be glued together which usually doesn´t look as good. Dad got me a nativity set carved from the nuts for Mother´s Day. We thought we might get each of you a Tagua nut carving so if you have a favorite animal, bird fish etc. let us know.