burning bamboo

Burning bamboo

My go-to cheapie vacation souvenir of choice is the smashed penny. When I’m away, I’m always on the lookout for a smasher. I’m not sure how many smashed pennies I have collected over the years, but a while back I made what I had into an awesome necklace. No photos of that necklace today…I’ll feature it in another blog!

While I was away in Key West recently, I found that there were only a couple penny smashers on the island. And while I did manage to get my souvenir smashed penny, I also picked up a couple other souvenirs along the way!

It did take a little work, however. There are a zillion cheesy tourist shops on Duval Street in Key West, but when I am looking for gifts or something to remember the place by, I don’t want something that was made in China…I want something made by a local artist.

We went into several galleries/shops before coming across Koz’s Green World Gallery – a charming place filled to the brim with bright tropical colors, interesting and unique pieces by local artists, and apparently one of the largest collections of Trop Rock CDs (certainly THE largest collection of Trop Rock music I’ve ever seen!) The gallery director, Danny, offered a story about every single thing we were interested in – the artist that made the item, how it was made, where they got their materials, which artists supported different charities with the sale of their items. It was so interesting, and with that kind of sales person, how could I not buy something?!? OK, so I bought two things!


See me in the front? Those earrings were made by the daughter of a local Trop Rock legend. They’re guitar picks, and feathers! Such a perfect color combo, lightweight, musical, boho…so me!

And the other thing I bought was this little piece of dried bamboo with a tropical scene burned into it.


Cool, right? Well, that’s only a tiny part of its story. The artist doesn’t use the normal woodburning tools…he uses lenses and the sun to create his art. They call him the Key West Burning Man…and you definitely need to check out some of his amazing stuff on Facebook! I just love everything about what he does. What could be more eco-friendly than using the sun to produce your art?

Anyway, I got this little piece of burned bamboo with the idea of making it into a pendant. I was too nervous to try drilling a hole because I thought that might splinter the wood or even break it. So I did a little wrapping with some hemp instead!


A few small simple knots were all I needed to get this all together. I added a little color with a pretty blue recycled glass bead at the bottom.




The closure is an adorable ceramic pendant that I got at a craft fair. I thought it was the perfect addition to complete the beachy, vacation-y vibe.


So, I collect smashed pennies and local art when I travel. I have a coworker that collects rocks. Some people collect shot glasses or pins. What’s your favorite travel souvenir? Let me know in the comments!!


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