Monday, January 28, 2013

Olive Pit Paternoster

I have decided to make yet another new adventure into unexplored territories.  I have a few personas that I use when reenacting.  All of them should be pious gentles and should pray on a regular basis.  That is to say that they should be assumed to pray and public pretend at the appropriate times.  To better serve this acting I thought it best to add another accessory to my collection.  While doing dishes at the Vanished Woods feast I found that there were a number of bowls coming back to the kitchen area with unconsumed olives.  I LOVE olives and therefore started consuming them, as I did the dishes.  Not sure what I was going to do with them, but always afraid to throw anything away… as I ate, I kept all the pits.  I wrapped them up and took them home along with a small bowl of left over olives.

This project was spawned from that pile of pits.  I had pits of two sizes and decided that they would make a lovely set of prayer beads.  I began to clean them by boiling them for about 15 minutes.  After boiling water cooled I scrubbed each pit with a small brush to clean the remaining flesh off.  I then placed them in a safe dry place for about a month.  When sufficiently clean and dry I started taking them along with me to project nights and events.  I like small projects on the go.  I took a small carving knife, small metal file and a box of pits.  After an odd few hours I ended up with nicely polished, rounded, evenly smooth pits.


AfAfter laying them out a few times to decide if I had enough, I figured that how ever many I had was just about the right amount I would need.  Thrift planning at it's best.  Here you see the pits along with an American quarter to help gauge the size.  I took my small carving knife and used it as a drill.  I simply spun it slightly and it was very easy to pierce the end of the olive pit.  They are in fact hollow and so it didn't take much to "drill" them out.  Some had some meat still inside and so I used a small pin vise hobby drill to manually drill out and clean the inside guts out.

In the image you see here was the next step of my testing.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish the beads so I tested two approaches.  The small black bead was threaded onto some string and then dipped into India ink.  Nice and dark, but sort of lost the touch of the natural surface.  Pretty, but not what I was really looking for.  The slightly brownish tinted larger pit was soaked in some black walnut dye that I had made a couple years back.  Soaked it for about 2 hours and let air dry.   I liked that surface much better.  Maybe a little darker, but I really like the look of the natural surface.

I strung up the rest of the pits to get a feel of how they might look.  So far so good.  Not sure if I'll put a knot between them on the final string or not.  This was simply strung on modern thread to aid in the dying process.

Here is the black walnut dye I made.  Nice and thick and dark.  I decided to simply soak in a pot while warming over the stove.  Maybe the heat would help the dye take a little faster.

After they dye bath in warming dye I placed the beads onto a tray and warmed them in a toaster oven for 20 minutes or so.  Note I didn't head the dye to a boil.  Very low heat so that no burning would occur.  I also set the toaster oven to about 200 degrees so as not to burn the pits or crack them in the heat.  I didn't rinse them or wipe them off until after they were dry.

That round ended up making a set of pits only slightly darker than the other test pit.  I decided to try again for about the same duration to see if the dye took any better on a second run.

I was very happy with the second dye batch.  here is a photo of the first test pit and the final pits on the string.  Note that I did end up cracking two pits in the process.  Well, they didn't crack, they simply started to open up along the seam.  Not sure if that was the heat, the moisture or simply an overripe pit.  Not too bad to only lose two though.  These have been rinsed and dried with a towel. I'll let them sit for a few weeks before stringing them up.  (Maybe longer, I'm easily distracted)