The tagua nut also bears the name the "vegetable ivory nut" for good reason. The nut is around the size of a gold ball and looks like fine, off-white ivory and has a variety of uses from jewellery beads to buttons. It comes from the tagua palm tree, found in the rainforests of South America. If you've grown tired of its specific creamy beige colour, there's no reason why you can't dye it using dyes as organic as the nut itself is.
Place your tagua nuts into a plastic or metal container that has a lid. In a separate container, combine 4 tsp of a fibre reactive dye with 1 cup of warm water. Mix the two ingredients well.
Pour the dye and water mixture over the nuts. You may need to mix up more dye and water if the mixture doesn't fully cover them. Replace the lid and allow the dye to penetrate for one hour.
Remove the lid and add 1 1/2 tsp of soda ash and mix well. Allow the soda ash to penetrate the nuts for at least one hour. The soda ash will act as a fixative, preventing the dye from running.
Rinse the tagua beads in cold water. Add 1 tbsp detergent and mix well with the beads, rinsing them again in cold water.
- All About Hand Dyeing: How to Do Low Water Immersion Dyeing
- All About Hand Dyeing: Q&A
- "Lathes and turning techniques"; Fine Woodworking; 1991
- Equadorianhands.com: The origin of a beautiful and exotic piece or work: Tagua Beads!
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images