How to Carve a Monkey Out of a Peach Seed

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A peach pit has a woodlike exterior that is carvable.
A peach pit has a woodlike exterior that is carvable. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

In China, nut carving is an art that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Although many different nuts are carvable, the peach pit is highly symbolic in Chinese culture, representing longevity. Carving a figure from a peach seed is similar to carving other wood materials, but is of course much smaller and more challenging due to its size. The monkey is a common figure in Chinese art, making a carving of a monkey appropriate for a peach pit sculpture.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Peach pit
  • Small knives and chisels
  • Sandpaper
  • Rifflers
  • Needle file
  • Sealer, clear nail polish

Clean and dry the peach stone thoroughly, removing any particles of fruit from the stone. Stones from cling peaches tend to be easier to work with than freestone peaches, but both are possible to carve.

Draw a pattern for the monkey on a piece of paper. A monkey that has its arms close to its body and tail wrapped around the feet or close to its back is the simplest position to use. Limbs that protrude from the rest of the monkey's body are easier to accidentally snap off during carving or handling. In addition, it is important to take the shape and grain of the stone you want to use into account when designing your monkey. Every peach stone is shaped slightly differently.

Carve the general shape of the monkey into the surface of the peach stone using a knife or chisel.

Remove material from the nut using your tools, and refer to your pattern often. The best tools for carving a nut are up to personal preference and the size of the tool you feel most comfortable handling. Craft knives and pocketknives tend to be a good size for nut carving. However, using smaller tools allows you to create finer details.

Sand the monkey using sandpaper and rifflers, which are extremely fine files.

Add details, such as fur, nostrils or fingers and toes. Use very small knives or needle files to create the details. If you are able to obtain them, tools for dentistry are good for carving miniatures.

Clean the peach stone thoroughly, removing all dust, then seal it. You can use a wood sealer, like polyurethane, or simple clear nail polish to protect your creation. Peach pits can also be stained with wood stain.

Tips & Warnings

  • To create very fine details, use a magnifying glass for assistance. There are magnifying glasses available that do not need to be held and have a stand.
  • A vise or clamp will hold the peach pit in place if you find it difficult to keep still. This is also helpful for preventing you from slipping and cutting your hand.
  • Some carvers use hand-held rotary tools instead of knives or chisels. This is much faster than traditional carving, but loses some of the rustic appearance of hand carving.

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